By a Newsnet reporter
The LibDem’s energy spokesman at Holyrood, Liam McArthur, has called on Alex Salmond to stop attacking the decision to scrap the carbon capture project at Longannet.
Mr McArthur, the MSP for Orkney, claimed that the First Minister’s continued criticism of the UK coalition’s decision not to go ahead with the world leading project was ‘playing politics’.
The LibDem MSP claimed that there was still £1 billion on offer for a Carbon Storage project and that the plant at Peterhead was “still well placed to benefit”.
He claimed: “According to Mr Salmond, the UK Government’s commitment of £1bn to CCS, from which the gas plant at Peterhead is still well placed to benefit, is a betrayal of Scotland.
“Mr Salmond should stop using this issue for his own political ends and get behind the campaign to ensure that Peterhead now benefits from the significant funding available.”
However a leading academic recently questioned the amount of funding on offer from the UK Treasury. Professor Stuart Haszeldine of the University of Edinburgh has claimed that official documentation demonstrates that the figure is not £1 billion, but is in fact closer to £600 million.
Mr McArthur’s comments followed an exchange at First Minister’s Questions when Mr Salmond said: “The project at Longannet was a huge opportunity, not just for Scotland but for the rest of these islands and for Europe. It’s now unfortunately a lost opportunity.
“I know the whole chamber will unite in their condemnation of a Treasury decision that ends prospects of this world-leading project and threatens the future of clean coal in Scotland.”
The First Minister looked to the depleted LibDem benches and said: “Is it too much to expect that Liberal members will see the Longannet project as a lost opportunity for coal?
“We will be pressing to the utmost to try to secure and salvage a carbon capture project for Scotland but he must recognise the huge lost opportunity.”
The decision to scrap the Longannet project is the second time in four years that a UK government has declined to fund a carbon storage project in Scotland. In June 2007, shortly after the SNP won the Holyrood election, the then Labour chancellor Alistair Darling confirmed that the UK government would not be committing to a carbon storage project at Peterhead.
Professor Stuart Haszeldine questions Westminster claims on funding