A PROMISE of legal action has greeted the UK Government giving the green light to the Rosebank oil field in the North Sea.

Rosebank – which as one of the largest untapped fields in UK waters could produce up to 9000 tonnes of oil per day – was granted development and production consent by the UK Government’s regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) on Wednesday.

But campaigners highlighted that the project “can only go ahead thanks to a massive tax break the Government is giving to international oil and gas giant Equinor”, while others pledged legal action.

Tessa Khan, the executive director of campaign group Uplift and a climate lawyer, said: “Rosebank is a rip off. It’s another case of the government allowing foreign companies to profit, while the costs are put on British people who worry about the world we are handing on to our children.

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“There are strong grounds to believe that the way this government has come to this decision is unlawful. We shouldn’t have to fight this government for cheap, clean energy and a liveable climate, but we will.”

Simon Francis, the coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented: "Hidden in the small print of the deal is that this project can only go ahead thanks to a massive tax break the Government is giving to international oil and gas giant Equinor.

“Households struggling with their energy bills will be shocked that the new Energy Secretary has chosen to hand a multi-billion pound tax break to this Norwegian firm, rather than help people in the UK suffering in fuel poverty.”

Francis added: "This is a political choice and households will remember this decision at the General Election."

Oil Change International said its analysis showed that the UK was on track to be among the five countries in the global north “responsible for the majority of new oil and gas extraction to 2050”.

Silje Ask Lundberg, North Sea Program Manager at Oil Change International, said: “The science could not be more clear: there is no room for a single drop of oil from new fields … The fact that the UK Government has approved the biggest undeveloped field in the UK, and coming just one week after the Government’s weakening of its net zero policies, is proof positive it is siding with oil and gas giants over a liveable future for all.”

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But other industry bodies welcomed the decision to approve the Rosebank field, which lies north-west of Shetland and contains up to 350 million barrels of oil.

The companies behind oil field, Ithaca Energy and Equinor, said they had taken their final investment decision to invest £3.1 billion in the project in the first phase of development.

They said that the field is expected to start producing in 2026-2027, with the project supporting around 1600 at its peak during construction, and long-term will supply around 450 jobs.

Trade body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) said the field was estimated to create £8.1bn of total direct investment over its lifetime.

OEUK chief executive David Whitehouse said: “This is good news for our jobs, our economy, and our secure energy future.

“By promoting homegrown production, we avoid costlier, higher carbon imports while making more reliable supplies of energy in the UK, for the UK. We need more projects like Rosebank if we are serious about delivering a homegrown UK energy future.

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“We have around 283 fields in the North Sea, but over 180 of those will stop producing within the next decade. If these are not replaced, we will import 80 percent of the oil and gas the UK we will need at a higher cost to the consumer, our economy, and ultimately the climate.” Russell Borthwick, the chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC), also welcomed the UK Government’s decision.

He said: “Rosebank will make an important contribution to UK and European energy security, create several hundred new jobs here in Scotland and result in over £6bn being spent within the UK supply chain which is anchored in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

“Crucially, while its approval will generate vast economic benefits, it will not increase the UK’s projected emissions.

“Today’s announcement is a welcome shot in arm for the UK energy sector which will give investors, operators and the wider supply chain confidence as they strive to provide the power we need here and now and transition towards a net zero future.”

The approval of the Rosebank development was widely expected after Rishi Sunak pledged to "max out" the oil and gas reserved in the North Sea.

Keir Starmer's Labour have said they will honour any licences granted by the Tories.