The SNP’s Energy Minister has called on the UK Government to set out a “concrete timetable” for when the Scottish carbon capture project will be up and running as she came under pressure for sitting on £80 million of promised funds.

Gillian Martin told MSPs that the £80 million set aside for the Acorn carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) project, in the North East of Scotland, remains allocated.

Pressed over why it has not been handed over, Ms Martin said that a timescale for the project is needed, adding that the funds will be used as the project sees fit.

Speaking in Holyrood, Ms Martin said: “The UK Government has not provided a timeline yet for the Scottish cluster’s deployment and has not provided a concrete timeline for the deployment of the Acorn project at St Fergus.

“So in the absence of this vital information, it’s not possible at present to establish how the Scottish Government can best tailor our support for the Scottish cluster.”

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She added: “The £80 million we promised to the Scottish cluster will be deployed in collaboration with the cluster as the project develops.

“We will take the lead from them on how that £80m will be deployed.”

But the Scottish Government has been accused of “betraying the North East” but not yet handing over its promised funding.

In February 2022, the Scottish Government pledged the £80 million to Acorn which has yet to be handed over while the UK Government has already put forward more than £40 million to the project so far.

Scottish Conservative net zero and energy spokesman Douglas Lumsden, said: “The UK Government announced it had selected the Acorn Project at St Fergus near Peterhead for funding as part of a £20 billion carbon capture and storage investment package.

“Acorn is expected to support around 21,000 jobs at its peak.

“The Scottish Government promised £80 million to go towards this vital project but then snatched the money away.

“So, will this money now be reallocated or is this another broken promise to the North East of Scotland?”

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But in response, Ms Martin accused Mr Lumsden of a “complete misrepresentation” of the funding.

She said: “The £80 million is still there, it is available and will be deployed in a manner that suits the multiple partners in the Scottish cluster.

“Frankly, Mr Lumsden needs to stop this misrepresentation.”

Ms Martin added: “CCUS is a good news story for both the Scottish and the UK governments and could show what can be done when we both work together and take the politics out of this.

“The £80 million is there – it will be deployed in a way which the Scottish cluster wants it.”

After missing out on the first round of carbon capture funding, Rishi Sunak announced the Scottish cluster at the Acorn project has been prioritised for funding earlier this year.

Lead developer Storegga estimates around 21,000 jobs will be supported at peak of the project, which is partnered with Shell, Harbour Energy and North Sea Midstream Partners.

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Mr Lumsden said later: “The SNP has spent years playing political games with the Acorn project and now it has been selected for track 2, they are refusing to put their money where their mouth is.

“Gillian Martin has now admitted that the Scottish Cluster must ask for the funding before they are given it – despite promising the money in February last year.

“Their supposed £500 million just transition fund is being released far too slowly and their constant downplaying of this project, even predicting that it might never happen, is another betrayal of the North East.

“I’m calling on the SNP Government to stick to a promise for once and deliver the £80m to allow Acorn to become operational and help to reach our net zero objectives.”

But Ms Martin has called on UK ministers to “work at pace” to set out details of a timescale.

She called on Tory ministers to “show that ambition and publish that concrete timetable for the delivery of Acorn that the sector is looking for”.

She said: “Acorn is vital for a just transition that supports the decarbonisation ambition for a range of Scotland’s key strategic and economically significant industries.”