DON’T be fooled. Rosebank is a card-carrying disaster for the planet, taxpayers and green energy.

And much as I hate to argue with Alex Salmond, whose contribution to Scotland’s wind revolution has been massive, he is wrong, wrong, wrong on the possibility that this deepest-black oil field can somehow be made green.

Rosebank, off the coast of Shetland, has been granted development and production consent by the UK Government’s regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), and misinformation about its impact was spreading everywhere yesterday.

First, it won’t help energy security in Britain or reduce bills. As almost everyone knows, “our” oil is actually owned by big companies like Shell and BP which extract and sell it on the international market to the highest bidder. Thus, Britain actually imports 80% of the oil we consume. Rosebank oil will be no different and the way to reduce dependence on foreign oil is to reduce dependence on oil.

Second, there is hardly any gas to be obtained from Rosebank. Which may be just as well, since we have almost no means to store it thanks to a “just-in-time” UK Government that doesn’t invest in gas storage facilities. This year our storage has doubled to 12 days. Whoop, whoop.

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But that compares with 90 days in Germany, 123 days in France, 110 days in the Netherlands and ZERO days in Norway because they don’t use ANY of the oil or gas extracted by their state-owned company Equinor (formerly Statoil) but instead sell fossil fuels to gas-dependent suckers like us.

Indeed, since 2017 it’s been illegal to install heating based on fossil fuels. Instead, the Norwegians use clean hydropower, developed 80 years before Scotland because Norway had no powerful interest group of landowners blocking its development. Ironically then, Norwegian Equinor uses hydro to heat its Stavanger-based HQ yet now plans to make billions for its country’s massive oil fund by developing the Rosebank oil field.

You couldn’t make it up. The way to reduce dependence on gas is to copy Norway and install renewably powered district heating.

Thirdly, Rosebank will cost taxpayers an arm and a leg.

An exemption from the climate change levy for companies investing in the North Sea means taxpayers will lose around £4 billion – not likely to be recouped in taxes. Equinor describes this tax break as “helpful”, while the Institute for Fiscal Studies describes it as a “huge tax subsidy”. But justified if it creates new jobs?

According to Dale Vince of Ecotricity, the £4bn we have effectively invested in Rosebank will create 1600 new oil jobs, just 350 of which are permanent. The same money invested in solar energy (87% cheaper than a decade back) would create 32,000 full-time jobs, improve energy security and lower bills.

Yes, there are 70,000 to 90,000 folk employed in the oil/gas sector in Scotland’s north-east and their livelihoods do matter. But will 350 extra, new, additional permanent oil jobs off Shetland do more than slightly postpone the inevitable green transition and Scotland’s chances of leading the way?

Fourth – Rosebank is not green. Obviously.

The massive project will bust Britain’s legally binding net-zero targets and the carbon budget and invite legal challenge. Rosebank supporters – including Salmond – suggest green energy might power the new rigs and platforms. Indeed, Alex’s only complaint is that the UK didn’t also require Equinor to use carbon capture as it is in the Norwegian sector.

READ MORE: Rosebank oil field faces legal battle after UK Government approval

But c’mon, Alex. That’s fiddling while the world burns. Can intelligent people really divorce the extraction of oil from the FACT it will then be burned, releasing greenhouse gases Westminster and Holyrood are legally obliged to cut?

Over its lifetime, Rosebank oil will produce more emissions than 56 coal-fired power stations running for a year – more also than the world’s 28 poorest countries combined.

How will that feel when Rishi Sunak faces developing nations at COP28 in Dubai this November and encourages a move away from oil, coal and gas?

Perhaps he’ll pull a sickie.

Clean wind energy could power the new oil platforms. “Wind for rigs” is commonplace in Norwegian waters. But if Equinor does power Rosebank with Shetland’s massive Viking wind farm – due to go live next year – British taxpayers will once again pick up the bill.

Not one of the UK’s 200-plus oil and gas fields is currently powered by electricity, so Westminster introduced a new tax break earlier this year, which means oil operators will get £109 for every £100 invested in “wind for rigs” – even though oil companies have made record profits since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Equinor posted global profits of more than £15bn in the first six months of this year. Sweet.

In any case, wind-powered rigs are a long way off. So, Rosebank’s early exploration will certainly bust the UK’s carbon budget by 10%. And since Rishi “Chopper” Sunak has already “spent” part of that budget by delaying the move to electric cars and boilers, there’s no room for manoeuvre in the carbon kitty.

Finally, even if clean wind energy from Viking does eventually power the Rosebank, Cambo and Clair oil fields, that clean energy will be lost to taxpayers for decarbonising our homes and driving down our bills.

The obvious way to decarbonise oil production is to switch away from oil.

But that won’t happen anytime soon thanks to Keir Starmer. If elected, he will not revoke the whopping big oil licences being awarded by the Tories, and his announcement seems to have given Equinor the confidence to push ahead with Rosebank and prompted the company behind Cambo to claim it is now “in a better position” to get the go-ahead. All of this despite a warning from Labour’s shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband a few months back describing Rosebank as a “colossal waste of taxpayer money and climate vandalism”.

In short, the Tories are committing Britain and Scotland to an oil-soaked future, sneaking massive oil fields past toothless regulators, a frazzled public which craves the appearance of normality and an official opposition that’s permanently out to lunch.

It’s easier for politicians and the public to just go with the manky flow.

After all, “green” Norway last year overtook Russia as Europe’s biggest natural gas supplier and aims to maintain European energy security by drilling in the previously out-of-bounds Barents Sea – more accessible as Arctic winter sea ice melts with climate change.

Environmental campaigners at Friends of the Earth Norway, WWF-Norway and Greenpeace Norway describe this as “embarrassing”, “extremely reckless” and “a middle finger to the Paris Agreement”.

And it is.

Opinion polls suggest Sunak has rallied since his “cut the green crap” speech last week. And a Herald poll suggests readers are in favour of Rosebank by a margin of five to one. That still doesn’t make it right.

Do Scots have the courage to see beyond the last throes of the Oil Era and recognise this moment for the turning point it really is?

We’ll soon find out.