SNP ministers have been branded “completely hopeless” after sneaking out a further delay of their updated energy strategy until January.

The Scottish Government had initially promised to publish its first updated energy strategy since 2017 in the spring of this year, but delayed it until the autumn of this year – with the finger pointed at the UK Government bringing forward its energy security strategy.

READ MORE: SNP Government delays publishing updated energy strategy

But the document never materialised.

Now, attached onto a press release about the Scottish Government’s onshore wind policy, SNP Net Zero and Energy Secretary, Michael Matheson, has confirmed the key document will now not be made public until next year.

The Herald understand that the new strategy will include demand for oil and gas and could include a deadline for when demand for fossil fuels in Scotland could end.

Campaigners and independent advisors, the Climate Change Committee, have previously called for the UK and Scottish governments to set an end-date for oil and gas demand to give workers and the industry clarity over the just transition amid the move to net zero.

READ MORE: Calls for UK and Scottish governments to set date for ending oil and gas demand

Speaking to The Herald in October, SNP just transition minister, Richard Lochhead, said: “It’s going to be quite headline-grabbing once it comes out and goes public.”

Speaking in March, Mr Matheson said that the “revised timeline will allow time for robust evidence and analysis to be produced and take account of ongoing projects, which are progressing at pace in response to the rapidly evolving global energy environment”.

But he has now said, in relation to the energy strategy and attached just transition plan, that he is “pleased to confirm”, the documents “will be published in early January 2023”.

Liam Kerr, Conservative shadow net zero and energy secretary, said: “The SNP are just making it up as they go along when it comes to hitting net zero targets.

READ MORE: Scottish Government's delayed energy strategy to tackle demand for oil and gas

“Michael Matheson is boasting about doubling onshore wind turbines, but his own targets made that the bare minimum. Especially since he confirms that the Scottish Government’s energy strategy, initially to be published in spring 2022, and then in autumn 2022, is now delayed until January.

Labour net zero spokesperson, Colin Smyth, said: "The SNP and Greens claim to be delivering a 'renewables revolution,' but so far all they have delivered are missed deadlines and missed targets.

"We have been waiting over six months for this strategy, and in the meantime people in Scotland are struggling to pay their energy bills.

"We cannot rely on spin to fix this energy crisis- we need real action to deliver a green energy plan that works for everyone, and we need it now."

LibDems net zero spokesperson Sanne Dijkstra Downie, added: "Families are going cold this winter because of soaring energy costs. This strategy is long overdue. Postponing it once more makes it look as if ministers are completely hopeless.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently pressed the government to go further faster on wind, tidal and solar generation. These are the energy sources of the future, and we want Scotland to be at the forefront of the clean energy revolution.

"The Scottish Government need to stop dragging their feet."

The Scottish Government has been contacted for more information.