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CCS Funding (Peterhead)

Volume 607: debated on Wednesday 23 March 2016

6. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and Ministers of the Scottish Government on withdrawal of funding for the carbon capture and storage scheme at Peterhead. (904205)

I have regular discussions with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and Ministers of the Scottish Government on a number of important energy issues affecting Scotland. The most recent was last night.

The Government’s own advisers on energy and climate change have warned that the cost of meeting our climate change targets could double without Peterhead and CCS. Given that the Government are having a good run on U-turns when it comes to saving the Chancellor, perhaps they would also like to make a U-turn when it comes to saving the planet—something that people feel is far more worth while.

We are looking carefully at all options in developing our approach to CCS, informed by Lord Oxburgh’s CCS advisory group. In parallel, the Government continue to engage with the CCS industry—including Shell, which is leading the proposed Peterhead project.

At the time of the announcement of £1 billion of funding for the CCS scheme at Peterhead, the Energy Secretary was forced to deny that it was a bribe prior to the independence referendum. Now that the withdrawal of this supposedly ring-fenced capital investment exposes it as just that, will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to apologise today to the people of Scotland?

If anybody should apologise to the people of Scotland, it is the hon. Lady and her friends for suggesting that oil tomorrow would have a price of $103 a barrel. What is clear in relation to CCS is that the costs are high and must come down. We have not ruled CCS out, and we are committed to working with the industry to bring forward innovative ideas for reducing the cost of this potentially important industry.

I am reluctant to refer to the Budget because we cannot be absolutely sure what is in and what is out. For example, the Chancellor’s support for the oil and gas industry is welcome, but it does not take us very far forward. Unfortunately, it appears that the Government here in London are taking their cue from the Government in Holyrood. There, the SNP Government recently axed £10 million of tax breaks for renewable firms, yet they like to see themselves as a green Administration. Are we not seeing two Governments who are confused, pursuing contradictory policies, and not knowing whether they are coming or going?

I can point out one distinct difference between this Government and any Labour Scottish Government, or indeed SNP Scottish Government—and that is that we are not putting up tax for ordinary people as both those parties propose. We have made it very clear that the door is not closed on CCS, but the costs must come down.