THE SNP are facing criticism after a candidate suggested the party would keep the party’s stance against new oil and gas licences – despite a major effort to court energy workers’ votes in the north east.

Speaking on BBC Scotland Drivetime on Monday, the SNP’s Edinburgh East candidate Tommy Sheppard said it would be “reasonable to assume” that the party would continue advocating for a presumption against oil and gas licences.

The SNP in Holyrood does not have the power to issue new licences – but it has taken a symbolic stance against them being issued.

This position has become more complicated as its Westminster leader Stephen Flynn is bidding to present the SNP as the champion of energy workers, many of whom live in his patch in Aberdeen.

He has criticised Labour, who are the SNP’s main challengers in much of Scotland, for its energy policy.

READ MORE: Scottish Greens warn SNP against U-turn on oil and gas exploration

Flynn claimed on Sunday that Labour’s plans to extend the windfall tax on energy firms would result in the loss of 100,000 jobs.

Keir Starmer has also previously pledged a Labour government would not issue any new oil and gas licences but allow current projects to continue.

Asked if the SNP would keep its energy stance, Sheppard said: “That is what the public consultation was about and I would think that it is reasonable to assume that at the end of the day that will be the policy.”

And he said that the SNP were the party demanding climate checks on energy projects.

Sheppard added: “The two big parties at Westminster are actually committed to major projects like Rosebank going ahead. Only the SNP are saying that that should be reviewed against a set of climate criteria.”

His comments triggered alarm bells for the Alba Party, who said keeping the SNP’s stance against new oil and gas developments would be a “betrayal”.

Charlie Abel, the Alba candidate in Aberdeen North, said: “It would be an act of great folly to sacrifice the enormous potential of Scotland’s oil and gas sector, the billions it generates in revenues and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it sustains all to appease the Greens who don’t want any new oil fields to be developed.

“An SNP candidate has now let the cat out of the bag that they are trying to get through the election and then announce a presumption against new oil and gas exploration. This betrayal of the north east of Scotland will be unforgettable and unforgivable.”

The SNP were approached for comment.