THE SCOTTISH Government has ignored calls to act “with urgency” and set up a publicly-owned energy company despite a Greens minister claiming the gas wholesale crisis is a “consequence of slow action” in decarbonising heating systems.

The SNP has dropped plans to set up a publicly-owned energy company, which Nicola Sturgeon in announcing the keynote policy at her party’s 2017 conference, said would mean “energy would be bought wholesale or generated here in Scotland – renewable, of course – and sold to customers as close to cost price as possible”.

Earlier this month, SNP activists at the party’s conference overwhelmingly called for the plans to be revived – but the appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

Labour’s Monica Lennon called on ministers to think again after the gas wholesale crisis emerged this week – with costs soaring by 250% since January and raising fears of a knock-on impact on the food and drink industry.

Last week, SNP Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson justified the energy company being dropped by claiming “the issue is not so much the supply of energy” and instead pointed to a new agency tasked with “co-ordination of the necessary action to deliver decarbonisation” – days before the gas price crisis escalated.

Speaking in Holyrood, Ms Lennon said her party wants to see” bolder and faster action”, pointing to plans for a public energy company.

She said: “It is disappointed that it appears to have been taken off the table by ministers.

“We’re asking parliament to agree that the Scottish Government acts with urgency to introduce plans for a publicly-owned not-for-profit energy company.

“We believe this could be a game-changer with multiple benefits that could accelerate Scotland’s journey towards net zero while addressing the affordability of household bills.

“We can all see that the market-led model of energy transition is failing – it's failing customers, it’s failing workers and it’s failing businesses here in Scotland.”

Ms Lennon added the plans could “deliver affordable energy to customers” and was “absolutely” achievable.

Conservative net zero spokesperson Liam Kerr, warned that “the move to net zero emissions will require significant and wide-ranging demand reduction” for energy.

He said: “The UK gets about three quarters of its total energy form fossil fuels. There will still be a significant need by 2050.”

Mr Kerr pointed to the surge in wholesale gas costs, which he attributed partly to “global causes” but warned: “If we reduce production faster than demand, we will be at the mercy of events globally, we’ll offshore our responsibilities and expose ourselves to significantly less environmentally-sound sources”.

The Tory MSP also pointed to Scottish Government estimates that converting fossil fuel boilers to a zero emissions heating system could cost around £12,000 per household and claimed the strategy “is making Scottish homeowners pay for their policies”.

It is not yet known if government grants will be available to update domestic heating systems.

Greens’ Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity Minister, Lorna Slater, told MSPs that “the energy market has been hit by multiple supplier failures, rising consumer debt, volatile energy prices” adding that “a different approach is required”.

Ms Slater labelled the gas cost crisis as “a consequence of slow action in reducing our society’s dependence on fossil fuels”.

But she refused to say whether she still supports plans for an energy company being accelerated, despite calling on the First Minister for more action in June.

Mr Matheson pointed to his plans for a new “dedicated national public energy agency”, in place of an energy company, which he said will “provide leadership". and a coordiantied approach to delivering at the pace and scale that’s required” to decarbonisate buildings.