Scottish climate activists have described the UK government’s plans to award North Sea oil and gas projects annually as “wilful killing”.

Controversial campaign group This is Rigged, who have previously blocked the gates of a new oil sites and thrown paint on the Scottish Parliament, have condemned the proposal, set to be announced in the King’s Speech on Tuesday.

Ministers have insisted that these new projects would have to meet Net Zero pledges and would “bolster energy security” as a fixed period for the awarding of new licences is brought in.

However, there has been widespread criticism of the move from both political opponents and campaigners, with This is Rigged calling for an immediate transition to renewable energy sources.

Co-founder of the group, Hannah Bright, said: “We’re running out of ways to say that this is unacceptable, that this is murder, that this is a crime against humanity.

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“The announcement of new annual licensing bids is just another in a seemingly endless barrage of f*** yous to ordinary people from Westminster. We have precious few years to mitigate some of the worst effects of runaway climate collapse - in this time, everything must change.

“We urgently need a transition towards renewables, and a fair transition plan for Scotland’s oil workers. We do not need more oil licenses, when every credible scientist agrees that this is a death sentence for humanity.

The policy could prove one of the key climate battlegrounds between Conservative and Labour at next year’s general election. While Rishi Sunak supports new licences being granted, Keir Starmer has vowed that Labour will honour existing licences, but will not implement any additional projects.

As the plans for the North Sea are debated in Westminster, This is Rigged are calling on those in power in Holyrood to fight against the plans.

The Herald: The Prime Minister was addressing the Westminster correspondents’ dinner in central London

In July 2023 Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (above) said: "My view is we should max out the opportunities that we have here in the North Sea, because that’s good for our energy security."

Bright said: “These Tory politicians are not daft - they know the cost of these new licences, they know the science; this is wilful killing. They know exactly what needs to be done to get us out of this mess, they just aren’t willing to do it

“The Scottish government is in opposition to the new licences - Humza Yousaf supports a rapid transition towards renewables, as does the majority of the Scottish voting public.

“Where the political will is lacking from Westminster, the Scottish government must continue to put pressure on them to stop exploiting the resources in our North Sea to these murderous ends.

On Monday, Humza Yousaf told journalists in Dundee that he was yet to fully digest the detail of the proposal, but said that new licences “fly in the face” of climate obligations.

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He added: “We have an existential climate crisis right here, that the entire world is facing. We absolutely support the oil and gas industry, we support the jobs. We want to accelerate as quickly as we possibly can to that just transition.

“What the UK government has announced over the past few weeks and months will only slow down that just transition, which won’t help the UK and certainly won’t help the planet.”

In order to be passed, the proposals stay within the parameters of the UK importing more gas from abroad than it produces at home, as well as ensuring that that carbon emissions are lower than the equivalent emissions from imported liquefied natural gas.

However, after extreme weather battered Scottish shores and beyond, activists are calling for more severe action.

Bright said: When we are staring down the barrel of climate collapse, when nightmare-ish storms are battering our shores week after week, when people all over the world are dying in fires and floods and heatwaves, and our politicians are coolly informing us that they will issue more oil and gas licences year after year - totally contrary to their supposed net zero commitments - there is no longer any question that something is deeply, fundamentally wrong with our political system.