East Lothian Courier – 1 February 2024


Last week in Westminster saw a debate on the Petroleum Licensing Bill which is political grandstanding. Yet fails to either address the climate crisis or the energy needs of the country. Indeed, the prelude to the debate was Storm Isha with trains cancelled and even a lorry overturned at Thorntonloch.

I agree that we should continue to use oil from the North Sea. We need to decarbonise but to get to the renewables future we need fuels for the ships at the turbines in the Forth and lorries reaching the hills. More importantly we require plastics for them. It’s a Just Transition that’s needed and allowing workers here in Scotland to take their skills across.

But the pace and scale proposed is frightening and currently isn’t even benefiting our own economy or people. The Rosebank field’s to be operated by Equinor, the Norwegian State Energy company, with profits from Scottish oil going to Oslo not Edinburgh.

Worsening that’s the proposed closure of Grangemouth refinery. That will see Scotland as the only major oil producing nation without a refinery capacity. The devastation upon the Forth Valley will be significant as other businesses are clustered around it whether in plastics or other sectors.

It’s economic and environmental madness to tanker our oil abroad for refining, whilst at the same time importing fuel for domestic use. The carbon footprint’s astronomical and the loss to our economy is huge. The refinery needs technical changes to process North Sea oil but that must be done. Otherwise, the arguments for using our own resource are lost. The only winners will be abroad or major energy companies and all we’ll get here is unemployment and high energy bills.

On high energy bills the recent cold spell has seen folk turning up the heating. Many having to do so at the cost of eating and the Foodbank has told me just how busy they’ve been. 500 parcels in East Lothian are an incredible number. It’s a great credit to staff and volunteers but what an indictment on our society. It’s war on poverty not a world war that’s needed.