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Scottish Government urged to release £80m CCUS funding for Acorn Project at St Fergus

By Kyle Ritchie

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The Scottish Government has been urged to release its promised £80 million of CCUS funding for the Acorn Project near St Fergus to allow north-east businesses to decarbonise – two years on from when the cash was first pledged.

North East MSP Douglas Lumsden described the repeated delays as more “broken promises” towards the region as he called on the money to be given to the development, which is expected to support around 21,000 jobs.

It comes after the Scottish Government revealed in December that “no budget provision has been provided for the financial year” on carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) despite pledging £80 million once the “Scottish cluster was given certainty of its due status”.

North East MSP Douglas Lumsden.
North East MSP Douglas Lumsden.

Last July, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visited St Fergus to announce that Acorn had been selected in Track 2 of the UK Government’s sequencing process to select four CCUS clusters to be operational in the UK by the end of this decade.

The UK Government has already invested more than £40 million to the Scottish Cluster and pledged almost £1 billion through its new Green Industries Growth Accelerator which will directly enhance projects such as Acorn.

And in last year’s Spring Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt MP announced an additional £20 billion to fund CCUS across the UK over the next 20 years.

But more than two years on from its promise, the SNP government has refused to release its funding for the development of carbon capture technology over the coming months and years.

In his question, Mr Lumsden asked cabinet secretary for net zero and energy, Màiri McAllan: “CCUS has been mentioned and the devolved SNP government announced 80 million in their budget over two years ago for CCUS, but not a single penny has been spent.

“So would the cabinet secretary not agree that the money that was pledged could be getting spent now to allow business to get ready to decarbonise?

“Or was this announcement of money another broken promise to the north-east of Scotland by the SNP?”

In her response, Ms McAllan said: “We will support the Scottish Cluster in CCUS, including financially, once there is track status confirmed.”

Mr Lumsden later said: “The SNP have run out of excuses for not releasing the £80 million they promised for Acorn.

“Track 2 status has been confirmed which is why it’s inexplicable that the Scottish Cluster is still waiting on the promised funding to be released – more than two years after it was promised.

“Rather than creating petty grievance and division, the SNP government should stop harming business investment and finally come up with the £80 million which will help to bring this vital project forward for the north-east.”

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