Energy Minister Charles Hendry promised last night to engage in “constructive” talks with the Scottish Government to deal with infrastructure constraints hampering the development of the offshore oil and gas and renewables industries.
He said that under the UK Government’s “respect agenda” where issues are devolved it must not seek to influence decisions in Scotland.
He added: “We are very keen to have a holistic approach to these issues.
“I have already had an initial discussion with the first minister and I am looking forward to having further conversations with him in the course of the next few weeks to talk about how we can constructively work together on these areas, because that is what industry is looking for.”
Mr Hendry was replying to a Commons Westminster Hall debate in which Gordon Liberal Democrat MP Malcolm Bruce warned the UK economy and government would lose out if oil and gas and marine wind, wave and tidal power development is held back by bottlenecks.
He said a 5% loss of development potential in the north-east would cost £480million a year in tax revenue and 22,000 jobs.
Mr Bruce complained that underfunded Aberdeen city and Aberdeenshire councils are unable to finance the improvements that are required.
He said: “Compared with other energy centres around the world Aberdeen does not live up to its role as Europe’s Offshore Energy Capital.” He feared that infrastructure constraints could mean key work developing offshore renewables round the UK coast could be lost to foreign ports.
Mr Bruce said later he accepted Mr Hendry’s assurance of his commitment to offshore development and the north-east and planned to send an account of the debate to First Minister Alex Salmond, MSP for Gordon, and Finance Secretary John Swinney, MSP for Tayside North.
Mr Hendry said the Treasury had an “open mind” about the need to free-up Scotland’s share of the fossil fuel levy to fund developments needed for offshore renewables.
During the debate Aberdeen South Labour MP Anne Begg backed the case for the western peripheral route and a rail commuter service across Aberdeen.
Aberdeen North Labour MP Frank Doran warned of constraints affecting skilled manpower for work offshore and the need to involve the unions in improving safety.