SCOTTISH Tory leadership hopeful Michelle Ballantyne has been described as a “conspiracy theorist” after she claimed a secret report showing how Scotland could “benefit” from climate change was suppressed.

Speaking at a hustings in Edinburgh with rival Jackson Carlaw, the MSP didn’t reveal who was doing the suppressing but she accused environmental campaigners of jumping on a bandwagon.

According to the Sun, she told party members: “I was talking to an expert quite recently... we were discussing some of the issues around it. And he advised me, and I’m going out hunting now, that there is a report that was done on climate change for Scotland.

“And the report highlights that Scotland will benefit. So it’s being suppressed needless to say. But I don’t think it’s about saying oh look there’s a report that says it’s all great. It’s about understanding what impact that will have and what we need to do to change it.

“It is a bit of a bandwagon at the moment. But we need to protect our industries that are affected. So you talked about farming, and there’s a lot of anti-farming at the moment on the basis of climate change.”

Ballantyne,who is the party’s Social Security spokeswoman in Holyrood, suggested much of the climate change movement was anti-farming and that Scotland could do more to promote its “climate-friendly cows”.

She said: “Because most of our cattle are grass-fed, actually we are a healthy nation when it comes to climate change and farming.

“We could put a stamp on that and create as a unique selling point to the world, climate-friendly cows.

“We have opportunities here around climate change and need to harness them, not just see it as a negative.”

Scottish Greens climate spokesperson Mark Ruskell said the Tory’s comments were “unforgivable”.

He added: “Michelle Ballantyne is known for ignoring the evidence of how Tory cuts have hit the poorest in society, but to ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence on the climate emergency is equally unforgivable and lacks any credibility.

“To label reports from the United Nations and the UK Government’s own advisers as a ‘bandwagon’ is very dangerous rhetoric indeed.

“At the current rate of warming, large parts of Scotland will become flooded by 2050, crippling the economy. Michelle Ballantyne might think that is acceptable, but for those of us in the real world this is an issue requiring urgent leadership not conspiracy theories.”

SNP deputy leader Keith Brown said the Tory’s remarks were outrageous: “Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face.

“For a prospective Tory leader to downplay its importance is bad enough, but to argue that evidence is being suppressed is utterly outrageous.”