THE UK could squander the huge potential to use carbon capture and storage schemes to cut emissions while boosting economic growth unless the Government is less vague and ambiguous, MPs have claimed.

The Westminster parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has accused the government of holding back the development of carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) technology by failing to provide the clear policy direction required while focusing too much on the cost implications.

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In a report published today the committee says the UK is considered to have one of the most favourable environments globally for CCUS but claims the technology has suffered from 15 years of turbulent policy support. This has yet to result in any commercial-scale plants being built in the UK.

“The Government needs to move away from vague and ambiguous targets and give a clear policy direction,” says the committee.

It warns that failure to deploy the technology could leave the UK struggling to meet its climate change targets while adding billions to the associated bills every year.

“The Government now needs to give the ‘green-light’ to CCUS and ensure that we seize the domestic growth and jobs opportunities of this modern, green industry,” said committee member Anna Turley. She added: “The Treasury needs to shake off the blinkers in its attitude to CCUS.”

The findings of the report will be studied with great interest in Scotland, which experts have said is uniquely well-placed to play a key part in maximising the potential and use of the technology.

Read more: Scotland at the heart of CO2 solutions

The oil and gas fields off the country could be used to store carbon dioxide captured from waste gases as reservoirs run dry, helped by utilising the extensive pipeline infrastructure that is in place. The expertise developed by the North Sea oil and gas industry may help give the country an edge.

The Scottish Government noted the potential of Carbon Capture and Storage in its first Energy Strategy in December 2017.

UK energy minister Claire Parry published an action plan to deliver the UK’s first carbon capture usage and storage project by the mid-2020s at a sector summit held in Edinburgh in November.

However, today’s report reflects MPs’ view that encouraging official noises about CCUS have yet to translate into effective action, partly as a result of penny pinching.

The report laments the fact that two major competitions that were being run to support the development of CCUS projects were cancelled at a late stage. Both involved facilities in Scotland.

In November 2015 the Government axed a £1bn competition under which schemes at Peterhead and in Yorkshire were vying for funding.

Read more: Peterhead hopes dashed as £1bn carbon capture project scrapped

At Peterhead, Shell and SSE wanted to capture up to 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the power generation process and store them in a depleted reservoir on the Goldeneye field about 60 miles offshore. The scheme was thought to have the potential to create 600 jobs.

In 2011 UK ministers pulled funding for a carbon capture and storage project at ScottishPower’s plant at Longannet in Fife in a move described as a “kick in the teeth” for the local community.

Read more: Scottish fury mounts over Longannet 'kick in teeth'

Attention is focused on Banchory-based Pale Blue Dot Energy which in December won a licence to conduct appraisal work for its Acorn carbon capture and storage project in the North Sea. The company describes Acorn as a low-cost low-risk project.

The BEIS committee report noted the Government has identified North East Scotland as one of five clusters suited for early CCUS deployment. Others include Humberside and South Wales. It recommended the government should aim to develop CCUS projects in at least three clusters by 2025.

It said the Government’s ambition to “deploy CCUS at scale during the 2030s” was so broad as to be meaningless.

The report said failure to deploy CCUS could double the cost of meeting the UK’s targets under the Climate Change Act 2008 from around one per cent to 2% of GDP per annum in 2050.