A FRONTBENCH Tory MSP has been accused of being “deeply disrespectful” to communities in the north east of Scotland after incorrectly claiming that a controversial North Sea oil project has been factored into net zero plans by statutory advisers.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Conservative net zero and energy spokesperson, Liam Kerr, claimed that the Climate Change Committee, which is the statutory advisers set up for the UK and Scottish governments, have “priced in” controversial plans to open up the oil field at Cambo in the North Sea as part of Scotland’s pathway to reach net zero by 2045 and the UK by 2050.

But the Climate Change Committee has not included any specific developments, including Cambo in its analysis on how Scotland and the UK could reach net zero.

A spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon said that it is up to Mr Kerr “how he now chooses to clarify or correct his remarks”.

The Climate Change Committee has used projections from the North Sea Transition Authority, formerly the Oil and Gas Authority, for its net zero pathways, which does include some new fossil fuel developments.

But the Herald understands that as the regulator has not provided a split between new and existing projects or identified which fields are included in their projections, the CCC has been unable to determine if the plans for Cambo are included.

Mr Kerr has been a strong ally of the Cambo oil field plans and has consistently criticised the Scottish Government for what he claims is a lack of support for the North Sea oil and gas sector.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, he said: “Given the Cambo field is priced in to the Climate Change Committee’s net zero projections for decarbonisation, could help reduce the cost of energy bills and create around 4,000 jobs and would significantly help the UK’s energy security, will the First Minister consider giving her political backing to production from Cambo?”

A spokesperson for the First Minister said: “Liam Kerr appears to have attributed views to the committee which are at odds with the facts – it is up to him how he now chooses to clarify or correct his remarks.

“More generally, the Tories like to talk the talk on climate change but are far too often found wanting when it comes to agreeing with the actions which are needed. We will continue to press ahead with our plans for a just transition, which protects and creates jobs, while meeting our net zero targets.”

In August, Lord Deben, the chairman of the Climate Change Committee, told Holyrood’s Net Zero Committee that “the justification for any new oil and gas exploration or production has to be very, very, very strong and I cannot say that I have so far seen any such evidence”, when pressed about the plans for Cambo.

Scottish Greens MSP for the North East, Maggie Chapman, said: “It is deeply disrespectful to the communities in the North East and elsewhere to misrepresent expert advice like this.

“Indeed, CCC member Lord Deben told the Net Zero committee in August that he hadn’t seen a compelling case for opening Cambo, and that it ‘would send a message to the rest of the world that such a development is acceptable.’

“Given the volatile price of fossil fuels and Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, the case for Cambo has only got weaker since.

“The climate science is clear, and so are the UK Government’s advisors. Cambo cannot go ahead, and if Mr Kerr wants to support his constituents he should stop making things up, giving workers false hope based on a lie, and persuade his bosses in the UK Government to invest in alternative jobs in a just transition away from oil and gas.”

But an industry source has claimed the CCC has used a long-lange production forecast in its sixth carbon budget, which the insider suggested has new projects baked into it.

The Scottish Conservatives have been contacted for comment.