Question S4F-00208: Longannet Carbon Capture and Storage

Bill Walker: To ask the First Minister what the Scottish Government’s position is on the decision by the United Kingdom Government not to proceed with the proposed carbon capture and storage project at Longannet.

Current Status: Taken in the Chamber on 27/10/11

The First Minister (Alex Salmond): The carbon capture and storage project at Longannet was a huge opportunity, not only for Scotland but for the rest of these islands and for Europe. Unfortunately, it is now a lost opportunity. I recognise the strong case that Bill Walker has made on behalf of his constituents in this Parliament and elsewhere, and I know that all members in the chamber will unite in condemning a Treasury decision that ends the prospects of that world-leading project and threatens the future of clean coal in Scotland.

This is about more than a single project. It tells us loud and clear that this Parliament should be responsible for Scotland’s energy future and energy resources.

Bill Walker: It is truly a missed opportunity for Fife and for the whole of Scotland. The Treasury and the Westminster Department for Energy and Climate Change dithered and disagreed over the necessary funding, despite the fact that the cost of the whole project could have been covered by one tenth of the yearly estimated North Sea oil and gas revenues—

The Presiding Officer: I ask the member to get to his question, please.

Bill Walker: Indeed. Will the First Minister continue to make the case to the Westminster Government that it is simply not acceptable to mouth words of support and offer warm words about carbon capture when what is needed is real action, so that Scotland can capitalise on that massive economic opportunity?

The First Minister: I will quote the words of Professor Stuart Haszeldine, who is probably the world expert on carbon capture. On “Newsnight Scotland” on 19 October, he said:

“it has gone through three Prime Ministers, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and now David Cameron, all of whom claim to be enthusiastic about carbon capture and storage. None of whom have been able to deliver it. It’s a project that has been extremely complicated and subject to a lot of quite unfair Treasury rules, and the Government has consistently refused to take on board much of the risk.”

As Bill Walker pointed out, at a time when North Sea oil and gas revenues are more than £13 billion for this year alone, it would not have been unreasonable to expect expenditure of one tenth of that amount to secure the long-term future of clean coal in Scotland.

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