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Vote No to lower your fuel bills, Cabinet to urge Scots

REJECTING independence could lead to lower energy bills and help ensure the lights do not go out, David Cameron's Cabinet will say today.

Coalition Ministers are set to announce a series of measures to support North Sea investment that they say could help ordinary people feel better off, both in Scotland and in the rest of the UK.

The moves would reduce the UK's reliance on imported oil and gas, which the UK Government says is pushing up energy bills.

The message is expected to be delivered by Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, who is to take a break from paternity leave to travel to a UK Cabinet meeting in Aberdeen.

Yesterday he said he had commissioned a report into the industry from retired oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood "to see how we can reduce the oil and gas we would otherwise import by boosting UK offshore production".

Ministers will today announce they will fast track a number of the Wood proposals.

They include a new independent regulator to drive collaboration between companies to produce oil and gas.

The UK Government has also pledged cuts to red tape and agreed a joint commitment with the industry to ensure licences are awarded to maximise the amount of petroleum from UK waters.

No 10 will say that by implementing the Wood proposals they will help support the industry to recover three to four billion more barrels of oil than would otherwise have been produced.

Ministers say these moves will also help safeguard the 450,000 jobs in the oil and gas industry.

The SNP last night said it also backed the full implementation of the Wood report and called on the UK Government to act without delay.

Scottish ministers have also called on Mr Cameron to use today's visit to apologise for failing to set up a Norway-style oil fund.

Norway's Petroleum Fund is now the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, worth around £470 billion or more than £90,000 per person.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "The UK Cabinet visit to Aberdeen is David Cameron's opportunity to apologise to the people of Scotland for his party's gross mismanagement of North Sea Oil, especially his failure to set up an Oil Fund.

"Whilst Norway have used their oil resource to transform their country - making them one of the most prosperous and fairest countries in the world - successive UK Governments have squandered Scotland's oil and instead built up debt of £1.2 trillion - equivalent to £20,000 per person."

Liberal Democrat MP Mr Davey faced criticism for beginning his paternity leave last week when thousands of homes were without electricity following storms.

Aides defended his decision, saying he was still in daily contact with his department. Sources said he had "pulled out all the stops" to travel to Scotland today.

The UK cabinet will arrive on the back of an opinion poll at the weekend which suggested increasing support for the No campaign.

The ICM poll of 1004 Scots, carried out between February 17 and 21 found support for a No vote had climbed five points to 49% with backing for the Yes campaign unchanged on 37%.

It also found most Scots believe an independent Scotland would be able to continue to use the pound, contrary to Chancellor George Osborne's intervention.

It followed another poll at the end of last week which suggested Mr Osborne's recent warning that the UK would not enter a currency union with an independent Scotland - a position reiterated by Labour leader Ed Miliband at the weekend - had backfired.

Mr Osborne will not be attending the cabinet meeting today as he will be travelling back from a G20 summit in Australia.

Today's meeting will mark just the third time in history that the UK Cabinet has met in Scotland.

In 2009 the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown took his ministers north of the Border when the Cabinet met in Glasgow. The first time the UK Cabinet met in Scotland was in 1921.

l Scotland's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing will today host an electricity grid summit in Stornoway to look at how to utlise the massive potential of the Scottish islands to deliver clean and cost-effective energy to households on the mainland.

He will meet with council leaders and local politicians from Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles to tackle barriers to investment in marine technologies.Experts suggest island renewables could deliver up to 5% of the UK's electricity by 2030.

Speaking ahead of the summit Mr Ewing said: "Renewable energy generation on the islands presents a massive opportunity for sustainable economic growth.

"Thousands of jobs and millions of pounds of community benefits will give current and future generations the ability to thrive in our island communities."

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