Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to ditch talks on a Green government “coalition” over fears for North Sea jobs.
Conservatives across the North East region sounded the alarm in a letter to the First Minister despite oil and gas industry leaders saying they look forward to working “co-operatively” with Green MSPs.
We can reveal the move days after Ms Sturgeon announced talks are under way on a potential deal which could see Green politicians take ministerial posts in the SNP-run government.
Confirming the plan on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said: “As we embark on this process, we are setting no limits on our ambition. So in that vein let me be clear that while this is not a guaranteed or a pre-agreed outcome, it is not inconceivable that a co-operation agreement could lead in future to a Green minister or ministers being part of this government.”
Greens co-leader Lorna Slater said the party wants to deliver “real change” in a year when Scotland is hosting countries from all over the world for a climate change summit.
However, five Tory MSPs in the region said they have “deep reservations” about the consequences of a government deal.
‘Coalition must not come at any price’
They are worried about Green plans to wind down production more rapidly.
They wrote: “We support a managed transition away from fossil fuels. But it would be wrong to just turn our backs on Aberdeen and the North East – we need to adapt to face future energy challenges, and in particular, take advantage of the huge opportunity to make the North East a global hub for decommissioning, CCUS and other technologies.
“Our concern is that your coalition with the Greens must not come at any price – throwing the North East and Scotland’s energy industry to the wolves being chief among them. We will stand against this and stand up for the industry, for the jobs supported by it, and for our constituents.
“We urge the Scottish Government to underline its commitment to working with the industry to help fulfil its own net zero ambitions, continue to support 100,000 Scottish jobs, and stand against the Greens’ intentions to dismantle a vital part of our economy.”
The five MSPs are Liam Kerr, Alexander Burnett, Tess White, Douglas Lumsden and Maurice Golden.
“We’re looking forward to meeting with the Greens to work cooperatively on ways tackle the climate crisis.”
Oil and Gas UK
Industry body Oil and Gas UK did not raise concerns about the potential government deal when asked.
In a statement, OGUK external relations director Jenny Stanning said: “We welcome the fact the Scottish Greens recognise the need for a fair and managed energy transition.
“We’re looking forward to meeting with the Greens to work cooperatively on ways tackle the climate crisis, using our members’ decades of energy expertise, while looking after Scottish jobs and local communities.”
The Green-SNP talks have raised concerns in other areas with a prominent role across the north and north-east.
On Thursday, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association said the First Minister should expect thousands of job cuts and angry protests about a “misguided class war”.
Tory leader Douglas Ross also challenged Ms Sturgeon on the potential impact on business from an SNP-Green deal.
Responding at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon said: “I think that most people across the country, and most responsible businesses that I speak to and have interaction with, know that, although it is important to support a strong, vibrant and sustainable economy, it is also vital—in fact, it is a moral imperative—to do that in a way that meets our obligations to the planet and delivers our climate change targets.”
She questioned whether the climate was “high up” Mr Ross’s agenda, adding: “We will continue to ensure that we support industry and the economy, and that we also support the country to move to net zero, which is a key priority and should be a key priority for all of us.”