Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me - but for the third time?
Scotland’s crucial carbon capture hopes have now been sunk by Westminster Government for the third time in 15 years - once by Labour and now twice by the Tories.
The plans are truly revolutionary - take Scotland’s biggest carbon emitting problems at Grangemouth, Peterhead and St Fergus and turn them into solutions. Instead of just taking world warming hydrocarbons out of the North Sea fields, send the carbon dioxide back to store and save us all. And, in the process, generate tens of thousands of jobs in new clean hydrogen gas technology.
That was the plan for Peterhead power station that Labour politicians Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling sunk in 2007. It was an even more ambitious “Goldeneye” proposal that the Tories and Liberal Democrats sabotaged in 2015, after falsely promising its go-ahead to buy votes in the independence referendum campaign. And now Prime Minister Johnson adds his name to this Ragman Rolls of treachery by refusing to place the Acorn project, or Scottish cluster, based at St Fergus at the front of the carbon capture queue.
Of course at Prime Ministers questions yesterday “sunshine” Boris claimed it really was a triumph for Scotland to be on the subs bench and we should all be very, very happy. That is what was said in 2007 and 2015! The hopes and technology for carbon capture are not pie in the sky. They are now going ahead in the Humber and Liverpool. And totally overwhelmingly the prime location place for the key project is St Fergus with a ready baked pipeline system to transport the CO2 back from whence it came.
Without the prospect of carbon capture on a serious scale, the UK Government does not have a prayer of meeting its carbon reduction targets and Johnson would be further embarrassed and humiliated in front of the planet in Glasgow in just ten days time.
Instead it’s now Scotland to be humiliated, stabbed in the back yet again by perfidious Westminster. After sending £350 billion of oil revenues straight into the maw of the London Treasury since the 1980s, we get zero return instead of zero carbon.
Who is there to defend Scottish workers and Scottish based technology?
Not the SNP/ Green coalition in Edinburgh, arm wrestling over the lunacy of closing down the North Sea, instead of embracing the hydrogen economy. A justification for carbon capture is that it makes feasible new field consents in the North Sea and to place an enforceable zero carbon obligation on these consents. It makes continuing North Sea production compatible with the future of the planet.
Not the Union jokes in the Scottish Conservative party whose political influence is negligible as Johnson targets consolidating the Tory breakthrough in the north of England with carbon capture investment and sinks yet more countless billions into ageing and failed nuclear technology in Suffolk.
Scotland welcomes the world to Glasgow with the ability to be an exemplar in all things green. No country on earth has more access to renewables and no hydrocarbon producer is better placed to embrace the clean hydrogen fuel of the future.
But none of this happens spontaneously. It requires industrial strategy. In any modern economy lots of things are important but only a few are really important. For Scotland carbon capture is one of these. With it we consolidate our position as a world energy capital. Without it the key plants of our industrial structure - Grangemouth, St Fergus, the North Sea itself - will fall like nine pins.
Scotland does not lack power sources but the political power to turn these opportunities into reality and transform our country into one of the green engines of the planet.
If we allow ourselves to be played for fools again then we will have no-one to blame but ourselves.
First published in The Herald on 21st October 2021