THE boss of Ineos has said he was "absolutely shocked" that a Scottish carbon capture project did not receive funding from the UK Government.

Dr Andrew Gardner, chief executive of Ineos Forties Pipeline System at Grangemouth, spoke out weeks after ministers sidelined the scheme near Aberdeen in favour of two programmes in the north of England.

The energy chief, whose company is involved in developing the flagship carbon capture project based around the St Fergus gas terminal, said the indications ahead of the announcement was that the scheme would get support in the first track of funding.

He added that if it didn't go ahead the whole of the UK would struggle to meet its climate change targets as it had 60% of the UK storage capacity.

"I was absolutely shocked," Gardner told the BBC earlier today.

"There were various reasons why I was shocked. One was that all the feedback to us as part of the Scottish cluster was was that it would be selected. 

"But the real reason I was shocked was that for the UK to hit its 2030 targets, the Scottish cluster is absolutely necessary. It has something like 60% of the UK's storage capacity."

READ MORE: COP26 ends with 'Glasgow Pact' agreed after last-minute negotiations

He went on to say he was optimistic that the scheme would get UK funding within 18 months at the latest.

"The simple answer is it has to be when not if and I am very confident that at the maximum it will be delayed by 18 months at the minimum, I know there is a lot of pressure and a lot of internal discussions going on just now that you would hope may drive a change in that view," he said.

"If the Scottish cluster is not there, it's not just for Ineos or for Grangemouth, it's for de carbonising the whole of the central belt and the north east of Scotland and it's signed deals to take carbon from the London area by ship and various Europeans.

"So if it didn't happen it wouldn't just be us struggling with our target it would be the nations of Scotland, the UK and potentially parts of Europe who are in discussion with the Scottish cluster." 

Gardner is the second energy chief to express disbelief at the UK Government's decision last month - which the SNP have said was a political one.

Tycoon Sir Ian Wood, who is involved in developing an Energy Transition Zone in Aberdeen, said last month that it made "little economic or environmental sense and is a real blow to Scotland".

He urged the UK Government to reconsider their decision and add a third cluster to the Track 1 programme "which should undoubtedly be the excellent Scottish bid".

Greg Hands, the energy minister, announced projects in the northwest around Liverpool and across Humber and Teesside, are to be granted Track 1 status, with access to state support such as the £1 billion carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) infrastructure fund set up in 2018.

The potential for a faster development timetable may see the projects operating by the middle of this decade which would bring substantial investment and thousands of jobs to the areas.

READ MORE: COP26: Nicola Sturgeon demands PM reverses snub to carbon capture plant

The Scottish cluster, based around the St Fergus gas terminal in the northeast but also incorporating the Grangemouth complex, was announced as a reserve project for Track 1. The cluster, known as the Acorn project, would move up if either of the other two were to fail or be discontinued.

Carbon capture is seen as a key way to tackle emissions from heavy industry as well as reusing North Sea infrastructure and empty fields. It is expected to work by taking CO2 emissions and then either reusing them or storing them permanently underground.