Ed Miliband placed a vote of confidence in Aberdeen by saying it has a “strong claim” to be the headquarters of Labour’s proposed publicly-owned energy firm.
The ex leader, who is now shadow climate change minister, said the city has a good case to be the home of GB Energy, if Labour wins the next general election.
Mr Miliband made the comments during a visit to the St Fergus Gas Terminal in Aberdeenshire, joined by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.
Writing exclusively for the P&J, Sir Keir earlier shared his plans to “unleash a generation of secure jobs for Aberdeen” as the UK transitions towards cleaner energy.
Labour confirmed on Friday that key North Sea industries such as carbon capture and storage, will be eligible for their £2.5 billion British Jobs Bonus.
‘I believe Aberdeen will be the clean energy capital’
Mr Miliband said he wants to make more trips to the north-east, and claimed the region is “absolutely a priority for us”.
Mr Miliband told the P&J: “I believe Aberdeen will be the clean energy capital. It has such brilliant assets. Its workers, its geography, its traditions, its skills. Our mission will be to make Aberdeen and the north-east the clean energy capital of the UK.”
Labour had been widely criticised by industry and trade unions for controversial proposals to end North Sea exploration and a lack of engagement with the sector.
Sir Keir was keen to put that to bed, stating he had met “pretty much all the leading players” in the north-east over his two-day visit.
He heard “frank and honest” views in discussions with industry figures in Aberdeen on Thursday. Concerns were raised about the “transition” from fossil fuels to renewables and how it will affect jobs.
Sir Keir said: “They are absolutely unanimous in saying we need the transition.
“So there’s nobody saying we shouldn’t go through the transition in energy.
“There are discussions about how that is going to happen, the pace, but most importantly about how does an incoming Labour government, if we’re privileged enough to come into power, partner with the sector to ensure this transition works well and works in a way that is fair.”
Criticism of Rishi Sunak
The UK Labour leader’s visit comes less than a fortnight since Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed he will protect 200,000 offshore jobs and support the north-east economy by drawing up new oil and gas licensing rounds.
But Mr Miliband said Mr Sunak was “talking nonsense” and claimed “nobody in the industry was asking for this”.
He added: “It’s a purely political device but it’s a political device that doesn’t work because his own energy secretary then went out straight afterwards and said this isn’t going to cut bills by a penny.
“What people want, including Keir, they want serious plans. They don’t want a government that’s suggesting they’re going to retreat from net zero.”
‘Too little, too late’
Labour’s plans drew criticism from SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn who said: “Its taken more than three years but Sir Keir Starmer has finally travelled north in order to assess Aberdeen’s riches – our energy, our workforce and our potential.
“The big question he has repeatedly failed to answer is why we should continue to trust Westminster with Scotland’s energy wealth when we all know they’ve squandered it in comparison to the likes of our Norwegian neighbours.”
Scottish Tory energy spokesman Douglas Lumsden said: “Keir Starmer’s pitiful attempt at finally showing face in the North East is too little too late.
“His energy plan – including GB Energy – lacks any credibility and is a feeble attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of workers whose jobs he wants to throw under a bus.”