CAMPAIGNERS have warned it would be “completely indefensible” for the UK Government to approve a new oil field extension near Shetland.

Siccar Point Energy and Shell want to open the new field containing more than 800 million barrels of oil, which will produce fossil fuels until 2050.

Scotland has committed to become a carbon neutral nation by 2045.

Campaigners have criticised the move for the Cambo field, which they say would produce and burn enough oil equivalent to ten times Scotland’s annual emissions.

The Cambo project will not be covered by the UK Government’s “climate checkpoint” which determines if new oil fields are compatible with climate change objectives as it was originally licensing for exploration in 2001 and 2004.

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UK Government ministers will decide whether to approve the development, just months before the UK hosts the global COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

But the UK Government's Climate Change Minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, told a special session of the Scottish Affairs Committee that her Government has a “world-leading” commitment to phasing out unabated coal power.

She said: “In terms of oil, it’s not a new licence, there are no new licences this year.

“This is an extension of an existing oil field and the OGA (Oil and Gas Authority) is responsible for managing the licensing system for oil fields.”

If approved, the Cambo oil field project would be 70% owned by Siccar Point Energy and 30% by Shell. It is located 125km north west of Shetland.

The International Energy Agency has warned that if global temperatures are to be limited to the 1.5C danger threshold, no new oil and gas fields should be developed.

The Scottish Government has been put under pressure to commit to a date when it will end its support for the exploration of oil and gas.

Friends of the Earth Scotland'’s climate campaigner, Caroline Rance, said: “Burning fossil fuels is the key driver of climate breakdown and every extra barrel of oil and gas produced speeds us closer to greater devastation.

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“The climate impact from producing and burning the oil and gas from the Cambo field alone is equivalent to ten times Scotland’s annual emissions.

“It would be completely indefensible for the UK Government to approve this development and would further damage the UK’s credibility on climate action ahead of the UN climate conference COP26 later this year.”

She added: “Both the UK and Scottish Governments must end their hypocritical support for drilling for every last drop of climate-wrecking oil and gas, and instead develop a clear plan for winding down fossil fuel extraction while building up support for retraining workers and supporting communities. That has to start with saying no to Cambo.

“The UK’s drilling plans in already operating oil and gas fields will far exceed the UK’s share under the Paris climate goals – further extraction will blast through safe climate limits.

“A managed phase out of oil and gas is necessary to protect people who work in this industry, their communities and the climate. This means no new oil and gas licences and a plan for a rapid and fair transition away from fossil fuels.”

“It is an obscenity that these plans are being progressed just months before the UN climate talks are due to take place in Glasgow.”

Jonathan Roger, chief executive of Siccar, said that the project will support the UK’s “energy transition” while “maintaining secure UK supply and creating jobs”.

He added: “We have proactively taken significant steps to minimise the emissions footprint through its design.”

A spokesman for the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “We are working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels but we also know there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years.”