KEIR Starmer has insisted a major green plan for energy jobs in Grangemouth is safe – as he announced Labour were officially scrapping its flagship eco-spending policy.

The opposition leader officially killed Labour’s plans to spend up to £28 billion on green energy projects – revising estimates down to around £4.7bn per year for the next five years.

Speaking beside shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves in Westminster on Thursday, Starmer ended months of speculation on the policy, which Labour insiders had called an “albatross” around the party’s neck.

Reeves (below) said: “We shouldn’t get too hung up about a number.”

The National: Rachel Reeves

The move will be seen as responding to Tory attack lines in the run up to the election but Starmer insisted the economic landscape means the policy, first announced in 2021, was no longer viable.

Starmer insisted he had kept a separate policy, announced on a visit to Scotland last year, that Grangemouth would see up to £1bn of investment to “safeguard existing jobs in heavy industry and create new ones in low-carbon industries of the future”.

When the policy was first announced, Labour said: “Investment of up to £1bn through Labour’s National Wealth Fund will see the acceleration of net zero heavy industry at Grangemouth.”

But in a briefing paper given to journalists on Thursday, the party committed to “an investment of £1bn, benefitting Scotland, South Wales, the Humber, Teesside and Merseyside”.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer’s clean energy plans branded 'anti-Scottish' after Edinburgh launch

Asked about why the Grangemouth policy was not specifically named in briefing notes on the party’s revised “green prosperity plan”, Starmer replied: “Anything we’ve said on that has not changed.”

Labour have insisted Grangemouth will receive the sum set out last year, saying: “The up to £1bn for Grangemouth still stands as before.”

Grangemouth is home to Scotland's only oil refinery but the town was rocked late last year when it was announced the site would close, with the expected loss of around 400 jobs. 

Voters will find it hard to trust Starmer's assurances, the Scottish Greens said, as party urged Labour: "Don't renege on yet another pledge."

The National: Gillian Mackay

Gillian Mackay, the Scottish Greens MSP for Central Scotland, said: "On a day like today it’s really difficult to put faith in anything Labour says after they broke their promise of £28bn a year climate investment."

Kenny MacAskill, the Alba MP for East Lothian, called the Labour leader "a man who backtracks on each and every commitment he makes". 

Starmer (below) defended changing course so often, saying: “In the real world, where I worked until I got here, almost all leaders, businesses, adjusted their decisions when the circumstances changed. And that was thought to be plain common sense.

The National: Keir Starmer

“In fact, 'it would pretty daft if you didn’t' would be the approach and you wouldn’t last very long in the real world.

“This is the only place I’ve ever known where not adjusting your decisions to the circumstances is supposed to be some great virtue.”

When first announced, Reeves had said a Labour government would spend £28bn annually on green infrastructure. This was later watered down to become an ambition or target for the latter half of the first term of a Labour government.

Labour’s current green energy plans now amount to £4.74bn per year over the course of the next parliament, amounting to £23.7bn overall.

READ MORE: Clean energy firm to be headquartered in Scotland, says Keir Starmer

This includes £8.3bn for the creation of a new publicly-owned energy company – to be headquartered at an as-yet undisclosed location in Scotland – which Labour say will “invest in homegrown clean energy across the country”.

There has also been a significant reduction in the scale of the ambition of Labour’s “warm homes plan”. Previously, the party had pledged to insulate 19 million homes over the next decade in a bid to reduce energy bills.

After sobering analysis by Government officials published earlier this week showed the policy could cost up to £15bn, this has been reduced to insulating just five million homes over the next five years.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader in Westminster, accused Starmer of “complete betrayal”, adding: “By breaking his word, Starmer has shown he is completely untrustworthy and it’s Scottish jobs and energy bills that will feel the full force of this latest U-turn.

“At the very moment other counties are ramping up investment, Westminster is showing itself completely incapable of delivering any form of ambition, whether that’s Tory or Labour."