UNISON condemns ‘disgraceful’ approval for North Sea oil field

‘Somebody must show international leadership in tackling climate change. It looks like it won’t be the UK’

                                                                                                                       © Bill Kasman

UNISON today joined environmental campaigners and others in condemning the “disgraceful” go-ahead for a new oil and gas field off the coast of Shetland.

The UK’s oil and gas regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority, has granted permission to Oslo-listed Equinor and the British firm Ithaca Energy to develop the Rosebank field.

The Guardian reported that green campaigners, including Greta Thunberg, had called on the UK government to halt the development, arguing that it contravened Britain’s plan for a net zero economy.

Posting online, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas called the move “the greatest act of environmental vandalism in my lifetime”.

UNISON is standing with Stop Climate Chaos Scotland in calling for a managed phase down of oil and gas production in the North Sea, as part of a just transition for workers and communities.

And UNISON policy offer Michelle Singleton said today: “We condemn today’s disgraceful go-ahead for Rosebank.

“Despite committing to a policy of reducing oil and gas, these licences to drill for more have now been granted ­– it should be obvious you can’t reduce something by having more of it.”

Ms Singleton added that the new field would not increase the UK’s energy security, since the oil taken would likely be sold on the global market.

“Unless the government was to nationalise the fields, it will have no control over where the output goes, so it won’t necessarily come to us. And for the same reason, it will not make our energy bills cheaper.

“Plus, renewable energy is much, much, cheaper, so if the government were serious about the household price of energy it would invest more to scale up renewable options.”

The UK ought to be showing leadership on the climate issue, she added.

“Even the Tory chair of the climate change committee, Lord Deben, noted that ‘We can’t ask other people to restrain their production if we don’t do it ourselves’. Somebody must show international leadership in tackling climate change. It looks like it won’t be the UK.”