THE decision to snub Scotland’s flagship carbon capture project in favour of two sites in the north of England has been branded a “political” choice by the UK Government.

The Acorn Project, which is to be based in St Fergus in Aberdeenshire, is now likely to come in the second phase of the UK's carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) cluster sequencing process.

Sites on the Humber and around Liverpool were chosen instead in the first round of the £1 billion funding scheme.

The Scottish cluster will now be considered as a "reserve"

SNP energy spokesman Stephen Flynn slammed the decision and suggested it was a plot to sway voters in the north of England to vote Tory.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson 'hinted' at cash for Scottish project just days before snubbing it

He told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “As far as I understand it the Acorn Project met all of the criteria and it was for UK Government ministers to determine where the final projects would be.

“I don’t think it necessarily comes as a surprise to anyone that when they’ve looked at where their votes lie in the north of England, as opposed to the north east of Scotland, they’ve decided to back projects in the north east of England for political reasons.”

Asked how he came to that conclusion, the MP replied: “I base that on the record of the Conservatives over many, many years.”

He insisted the decision taken by Downing Street was “wrong”, adding: “I don’t think anyone would reasonably argue that a site anywhere else in the UK is in a better location than the north east of Scotland to deliver carbon capture and underground storage.”

The National: The St Fergus gas terminal is earmarked to be the main hub for the Acorn ProjectThe St Fergus gas terminal is earmarked to be the main hub for the Acorn Project

READ MORE: Tory minister says carbon capture snub is 'good news' for Scotland

Flynn later put his views into footballing terms, concluding: “You wouldn’t sit John McGinn on the bench for a Scotland game any time soon but that’s what the UK Government has done here. They had their key project and they’ve sat it on the bench in the reserves. It’s not good enough.”

The SNP’s energy spokesman was also asked about the Scottish Greens’ views on carbon capture projects.

Green environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell has previously warned Nicola Sturgeon not to rely on “undeveloped technologies” such as carbon capture and storage to meet net-zero targets. The party opposed public investment in carbon capture in its 2021 election manifesto.

But Flynn insisted Scotland can’t achieve its net-zero emissions target, set for 2045, without carbon capture and underground storage and said opponents were “absolutely incorrect” to oppose the plans.

READ MORE: Shock as the UK neglects and abandons north-east Scotland once again

The Greens now have two ministers in the Scottish Government but yesterday Energy Secretary Michael Matheson put the Government’s position in unequivocal terms.

He said: “This is a terrible decision by the UK Government.

“All credible evidence and analysis has demonstrated that CCUS is critical for meeting Scotland’s statutory emissions reduction targets.

“It will also significantly compromise our ability to take crucial action to reduce emissions in Scotland and will have serious implications for delivering a just transition for those in our oil and gas sector.”

UK Business Secretary Kawsi Kwarteng, who also spoke to GMS, said the Scottish project was a “strong bid” and said it will “almost certainly” be developed in the second phase of the £1bn funding project.

He commented: “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.”