BORIS Johnson and Douglas Ross suggested that an Aberdeenshire carbon capture project was in line for UK Government investment just 14 days before snubbing it in favour of two English schemes.

During the Conservative conference in Manchester, the Prime Minister and Scottish Conservative leader were quoted on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme – with presenter Gary Robertson noting that they were “hinting” about good news for the project.

Yesterday the UK Government was accused of a “complete betrayal” of north-east Scotland after deciding the Acorn Project at the St Fergus gas terminal would miss out on the first round of Westminster funding.

READ MORE: Malcolm Offord: Acorn Project rejection is 'good news' for Scotland

It has been hoped that the site would be able to capture 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and transport it for storage in depleted North Sea gas fields, with bosses indicating the site could have been ready by the mid-2020s.

But it emerged this week that the project has been deemed a “reserve” and is unlikely to be developed until the second phase of Westminster carbon capture funding, due to take place in the 2030s at the earliest.

Instead, projects on the Humber and around Liverpool were chosen. Greg Hands, the UK’s energy minister, insisted the UK Government “continues to be committed” to other sites such as the one at St Fergus.

The SNP have described the decision as a “catastrophic blow”, which the Scottish Conservatives said it was “disappointing”.

READ MORE: The REAL Scottish Politics: Tories abandon Scotland for England's red wall

“The Scottish Conservatives have been pushing hard for the north east to be at the forefront of CCUS,” the party’s net-zero spokesman Liam Kerr commented.

Just 14 days before the decision, it seemed like Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross was indeed “pushing hard” for the investment.

Speaking to the BBC, Ross suggested there was good news coming for the Aberdeenshire site.

“I would listen out to the spending review that’s coming up in a few weeks’ time,” he told listeners. “There are ongoing discussions, I know the Scottish Secretary, I discussed it with him very recently, is making those views known around the Cabinet table and I would expect to hear more of that in the days and weeks ahead.”

Asked if that was a hint, Ross told the interviewer: “It’s a hint that there is ongoing dialogue within the Government at the highest levels.”

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Meanwhile, Conservative chief Johnson told the show: “We’re looking at all sorts of carbon capture and storage projects. The Acorn Project is one of them. There’s a big opportunity for CCAS, carbon capture and storage, in this country. And we’re investing in it. I think probably commercial confidentiality forbids me going into details.”

Following the comments, Good Morning Scotland host Gary Robertson put to political correspondent David Porter: “We’re talking about the Prime Minister hinting at Scotland being well placed to benefit from this investment. It sounded fairly explicit from both of those clips that we just played there, but Humberside in the north-east of England was thought to be the likely winner in the bid for this Government scheme, wasn’t it?”

The journalist said there was a “battle” going on in the UK Government over where the investment would go, but explained that those in favour of Scotland getting the cash saw COP26 as a good reason for it.

“It wouldn’t look very good if you were holding a big environmental conference in Glasgow and you have snubbed Scotland in this,” Porter said.

Speaking to Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng this morning, Robertson said: “Only two weeks ago the Prime Minister and the leader of the Scottish Conservatives were dropping very broad hints that there was to be some great news for Acorn come this announcement. How did that go so badly wrong?”

The minister replied: “I think it was a very competitive process. We said always that there would be two clusters in the first instance and two further clusters and I think Acorn is very, very well placed to be developed.”

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Asked if Johnson had been misleading people, Kwarteng said nobody knew what the outcome of the process would be and in the end Acorn was deemed a “strong bid”, but “HyNet and the Joint Tees-Humber bid were given the go-ahead”.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP's energy spokesperson, said the Prime Minister must come before Parliament and explain his U-turn "in detail".

“As recently as two weeks ago, Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross were giving strong hints that the Acorn Project would come to Scotland - so either Boris Johnson was misleading the public, or he and his Cabinet changed their minds at the last minute," he said.

“The people who live in the north east, and those who worked so hard on the project, deserve an explanation.

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"Yet again, the Tories are guilty of breaking their promises on ensuring a just transition for Scottish communities. They pulled the plug on a £1billion carbon capture project for Peterhead in 2015 - and have repeated the trick again."

Flynn said the Conservatives are "solely" focused on their Red Wall seats.

"Scotland is increasingly vulnerable under Westminster control," the MP added. "Only with the full powers of independence can Scotland deliver a proper just transition."

Former oil and gas tycoon Sir Ian Wood is one of those calling on the UK Government to reverse its decision today. The businessman said the move makes “little economic or environmental sense” and described the situation as a “real blow to Scotland”.

However Scotland Office minister and unelected peer Malcolm Offord suggested there was some “good news” for the future.

“The strong potential of the Acorn project has been confirmed by the bidding process,” the Conservative donor said.

“That’s good news for the future and, while I know the bid team will be disappointed not to have made the first cut, it’s encouraging that the Scottish cluster is a reserve and I’m confident it will continue to develop and compete for the next round of funding.”