ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have handed in a letter to No 10 signed by 80,000 people opposing the Cambo oil field as Boris Johnson claimed he was “not aware” of the project.

If given the go-ahead the crude oil field, co-owned by Siccar Point Energy and Shell, could extract at least 150 million barrels of oil in its first phase – the emissions from which are equivalent to running a coal power station for 16 years.

Activists have been highly critical of giving the project the go ahead in the midst of a climate crisis with one calling the decision "ecocide". 

Today they handed in the joint letter addressed to Johnson and Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, at 10 Downing Street on August 5.

The crude oil field is owned by Shell and private equity firm Siccar Point Energy, and if given the go ahead will begin production in 2022.

READ MORE: Cambo oil field: What does it mean for climate targets?

It comes as Johnson told the BBC that he “hadn’t seen the proposals” for the huge field off the west coast of Shetland.

Speaking to the BBC's Martin Giessler on Wednesday, Johnson was asked if the government is set to approve the oil field.

The Prime Minister was asked if the UK Government is “minded to support” giving the project the go ahead.

In the first instance Johnson said he “can’t comment” and was “not aware” of the decision set to be made by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).

The National:

Activists have criticised Johnson for claiming he was "not aware" of the oil field proposal

Asked a second time, Johnson said “that particular decision has not been brought to me”.

After a third probing over whether approving the oil field is compatible with the UK’s climate ambitions, Johnson said: “As I said I haven’t seen this proposal, I don’t know exactly what you’re talking about but I’m happy to, my vast, vast, let me try and elucidate our remaining viewers in this way.

“My vast preference is to use our incredible power to generate clean electricity, and we can do it.

“As I said some weeks we go the whole time without using hydrocarbons, most days we’re running 40 or 50%. I want to be pushing that number up.”

Environmental campaigners hit back at the plans and say they clearly contradict the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) advice that there should be no new fossil fuel development to avoid a 1.5°C rise in global temperature.

As well as the 80,000-strong letter handed in to Downing Street, a letter signed by 77 organisations was sent to Boris Johnson this week to reject the proposal.

The National:

Campaigners handed in an open letter to Downing Street 
Credit: Stop Cambo / David Mirzoeff

Penned by Save the Children, RSPB, Oxfam, 350, Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance, Avaaz and Uplift, the letter says: "As the host of COP26, it is vital for the UK’s international leadership credentials on climate change for it to walk the walk on all aspects of domestic energy policy. The Government has succeeded in mobilising the G7 behind the 1.5C target, which we strongly support.

“However, approving the Cambo Field will threaten this progress and stall our efforts at climate diplomacy at the exact moment we need them to accelerate.

"It will be hard to avoid the irony of world leaders meeting in Glasgow to discuss how to achieve a 1.5 degree world, while the UK Government contemplates a new oil field just over 300 miles to the north.”

READ MORE: Cambo oil field: Scottish Greens call UK an 'embarrassment'

Caroline Rance, Friends of the Earth Scotland Climate & Energy Campaigner said: "Boris Johnson doesn’t sound like a climate leader on top of his brief.

“With less than 100 days to go to COP, how does he not know what is going on in the North Sea and the fact that his government is poised to approve this huge oil field?

“If the Oil and Gas Authority is going rogue and just nodding these massive projects through, then the Prime Minister has to personally get a grip on energy policy and put a stop to these developments.

The National:

Activists say the oil field is not compatible with climate targets
Credit: Stop Cambo / David Mirzoeff

“The government should be supporting and re-training oil and gas workers to transition to jobs in sectors such as renewable energy or decommissioning oil platforms.

“A managed phase-out away from oil and gas is necessary to create the long-term protection for people who currently work in this industry, their communities and the climate.”

Charlotte Howell-Jones, Parents for Future said: “Allowing this new oil field now, directly jeopardises our ability to ensure a safe future.

READ MORE: Cambo oil field: Edinburgh activists block UK Government building

“It is essentially an act of ecocide. As parents we will not stand by and watch this happen. Now is the time for this Government to prioritise a just transition for oil and gas workers and the communities impacted and to start leading on clean energy.

“And given the clear statement from the IEA that there is no requirement for any new oil and gas, it’s imperative Cambo is stopped if we are to have a shred of credibility left hosting the COP in November.”

Mikaela Loach, a medical student and climate activist who is taking the UK Government to court over their oil and gas policies, said:“Any new oil field is incompatible with a liveable future and the UK government knows that.

The National:

The Cambo oil field is situated north-west of Shetland

"Choosing new oil over investing in green infrastructure needed for a safe and better future is violence.

“They are sacrificing my generation, and people elsewhere in the world who have done the least to cause climate change, for short-term profit.

"Approving this new oil field mere months before hosting the UN climate conference in Glasgow would show that the UK government are not serious about climate action.

“This is why the Cambo Field cannot go ahead.”