Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has written to Nicola Sturgeon urging her to support jobs in the North Sea, quoting the SNP’s old slogan of “it’s Scotland’s oil”.
It comes after the First Minister said the UK Government should “reassess” the licence for the proposed Cambo oil field near Shetland.
Ms Sturgeon made her first intervention on the Cambo issue on Thursday, saying the climate emergency meant there “cannot be business as usual”.
The SNP administration is currently in talks with the Scottish Green Party over a potential cooperation agreement which could pave the way for the Greens to enter Government for the first time.
Mr Ross’s letter to the First Minister said her new position appeared to be “motivated primarily by the constitution, not the climate”.
The Scottish Conservative leader said: “The SNP used to shout from the rooftops that ‘it’s Scotland’s oil’ – now they wish it was gone.
“More than 100,000 jobs depend on Scotland’s oil and gas industry. A speedy but sensible transition to net zero is essential to protect those jobs, our communities and the wider economy.
“Where are working class families supposed to find the cash to pay the higher energy bills that would emerge from abandoning the North Sea sector?
“The oil and gas industry has more detailed plans for reaching net zero than the SNP Government, which has missed its climate change targets three years running.”
He continued: “Nicola Sturgeon’s letter is motivated primarily by the constitution, not the climate.
“This change of heart is about sealing a nationalist deal with the Greens and provoking a grievance with the UK Government in the run-up to Cop26.
“Instead of playing childish political games to further their nationalist interests, the SNP should focus on tackling the Covid economic crisis.”
The phrase “it’s Scotland’s oil” was first used by the SNP in the 1970s to promote Scottish independence.
Ms Sturgeon’s letter on Thursday stopped short of full opposition to the Cambo field.
She said licences like the one for Cambo “should be reassessed in light of the severity of the climate emergency we now face, and against a compatibility checkpoint that is fully aligned with our climate change targets and obligations”.
A spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said: “We recognise the importance of the North Sea offshore sector to Scotland’s economy – but we also recognise the reality of the climate emergency and the code red for humanity which was signalled this week.
“Industry leaders themselves recognise the need for a just transition.
“Douglas Ross should acknowledge that, and the fact that Scotland is uniquely well placed to utilise the skills and expertise of the North Sea sector to achieve that transition so that jobs and prosperity can be secured in the years to come.”