IAN Blackford has accused Boris Johnson of breaking another promise to Scots after the UK Government overlooked a flagship carbon capture programme in the north east.

The Acorn Project, based in St Fergus gas terminal, lost out in the first round of funding in the UK Government’s £1 billion carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) scheme.

Alternative sites on the Humber and Liverpool were selected for Track 1 status, giving them the go ahead to be operational by 2025. The Scottish project has been designated as a “reserve” and will be up and running by 2030 at best if it is selected in the next round of funding.

Blackford, challenging Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions, claimed the decision was politically motivated.

He said: “In 11 short days, world leaders will gather in Glasgow for COP26. This is our best chance, and very likely our last chance, to confront the climate emergency faced by our planet.

“That is why it was such a devastating blow, that on the eve of COP26, this UK government rejected the Scottish Cluster’s bid to gain Track-1 status for carbon capture storage.

“Today’s Press and Journal have said ‘there is no valid reason and no acceptable excuse’ for this decision and have called for a U-turn on this colossal mistake immediately.”

Blackford continued: “We know this decision wasn’t made on technical or logical grounds – this devastating decision was purely political. Scotland’s north east was promised this investment in 2014. It is a promise that has been broken time and time again.”

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He urged the Prime Minister to “live up” to his promises on funding for the Acorn Project.

Johnson acknowledged there would be “disappointment” about the decision but sought to offer reassurance by insisting that the project would be considered a “reserve” to the English sites.

“There can be no more vivid testimony to this government’s commitment to Scotland or indeed to fighting climate change, that the whole world is about to come to Scotland to look at what Scotland is doing to tackle climate change.”

Blackford again urged the Prime Minister to step up support for green technology in Scotland.

He said: “People across Scotland are looking for answers today and they’re getting none. All they see is yet another broken Tory promise.

“It’s bad enough that this UK government is holding back carbon capture in Scotland, but across the board they are proving an active barrier to renewable energy opportunities.

“Tidal stream energy has the potential to generate 20% of the UK’s generation capacity 0150 exactly the same as nuclear. All this industry needs is a ring-fenced budget of £71 million, a drop in the ocean compared to the £23 billion the government is throwing at the nuclear power plant in Hinkley. But the UK Government are failing to give this support.”

The SNP Westminster leader asked Johnson to commit to implementing a ring-fenced budget for tidal wave energy to “save this renewable industry from being lost overseas”.

The Prime Minister urged Blackford to adopt “an unaccustomed spirit of optimism”.

He added: “The Acorn Project still has strong potential and that’s why it’s been selected as a reserve cluster. He should keep hope alive rather than spreading gloom in the way that he does.”