A HIGHLAND energy boss and former SNP backer has joined Alba, claiming that Alex Salmond's party is the only one standing up for the oil and gas industry. 

Steve Chisholm is the operations and innovations director for the Global Energy Group, a leading service and contracting company for the energy sector.

He is known as one of the driving forces behind the Inverness and Cromarty green freeport, co-ordinating with public bodies to develop a business case for the project.

He told the Press and Journal that despite being a life-long supporter of the SNP, he had taken the decision to leave due to the party’s stance on oil and gas support.

He said: “I’m a second generation supporter of the party, it’s something that’s been with me since I was in primary school.

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“Because of that, it’s not easy to walk away. But it’s become slightly diluted and it’s not the single purpose voice for independence it was a few years ago.”

Chisholm recently put his name forward to be the SNP candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross at the upcoming General Election, which is currently held by LibDem Jamie Stone.

He was beaten in the contest by Lucy Beattie, but said the process made him realise the SNP’s “business as usual” approach wasn’t meeting the needs of those in the Highlands.

“I have joined Alba as it is a real opportunity to be part of an ambitious party which is entirely focused on gaining Scotland's independence,” he said.

“The Highlands possess a wealth of natural resources, resilient communities, and a strong cultural heritage, which should see our region prosper.

“Our region is pivotal in achieving targets for energy security and net zero.

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“Alba is the only party I see standing up for our oil and gas industry and its’ workers, recognising the importance of a gradual transition to renewable sources of energy.’

Alba leader Alex Salmond welcomed Chisholm to the party and said his decision “underscores the party’s commitment to advocating for the interests of the Highlands.”

He added: “We are delighted to have someone of Steve’s calibre and business experience on board. It emphasises Alba’s credentials as a truly national party representing all parts and all communities in Scotland.

“Alba’s request to Steve Chisholm to help lead an economic and business initiative underscores the party's commitment to fostering economic growth and advocating for the interests of the Highlands.

“His extensive experience and dedication to the region's development position him as a valuable asset in shaping the party's economic policy and industrial strategy.”

It comes after a prominent member of Alba left the party following a row over its gender recognition policy.