The SNP’s leader at Westminster has suggested new oil and gas licences should be handed out on energy security grounds despite his Scottish Government party colleagues touting a “presumption against” new North Sea drilling.

The Scottish Government has published tis first energy strategy since 2017. In the delayed document, ministers table potentially speeding up the decline of the North Sea oil and gas sector – after new analysis revealed the sector would essentially run out of supplies by 2050 without any intervention.

The UK Government has opened up a new round of licensing for North Sea oil and gas which would essentially open up fossil fuels developments across the North Sea.

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Tory ministers have justified their position, despite the climate crisis, on energy security grounds – although the UK only imports around nine per cent of its oil and gas from overseas.

The energy security argument has now been parroted by SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, who has been uncomfortable previously in talking down the oil and gas sector given he represents the Aberdeen South constituency at Westminster.

Last month, sources close to Mr Flynn told the Telegraph that Nicola Sturgeon’s position on the oil and gas sector “has become a bit crazy over the past year because she enjoyed showboating at COP26”.

The source added: “There needs to be a serious discussion – his constituency has thousands of jobs in that industry that would be lost before renewables could replace them.”

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The latest move comes in direct opposition to the Scottish Government’s energy strategy which explicitly states that continued fossil fuels extraction in the North Sea “will not resolve the challenges of energy cost or energy security”.

Speaking to ITV Border, Mr Flynn stressed that the Scottish Government’s energy strategy is “incredibly important”, highlighting a “transition from oil and gas, from fossil fuels, to renewables”.

Mr Flynn refused to answer directly when pressed over whether he supports “speeding up the process” of winding down the oil and gas sector.

Instead he said: “Let’s look at this in another term. The oil and gas basin in the North Sea is a declining asset so what the Scottish Government are looking to do is to encourage the UK Government to strengthen its climate compatibility checkpoint.

“Within that, what they have said quite clearly is that if it is seen that there is a requirement for energy security reasons then that obviously is one of the checkpoints that can be covered. So I don’t think there’s anything to be worried about particularly.

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“If the oil and gas sector, if the energy sector can evidence that there’s an energy security requirement for this, then I see no reason for anyone to be worried.”

The Scottish Government has suggested there should not be any new oil and gas developments granted permission in the North Sea on climate grounds and has tabled a “presumption against” new projects being approved.

Mr Flynn was asked if there “should be new oil and gas fields”.

He said: “Where we are at this moment in time, there’s of course a requirement for oil and gas fields.

“In the years to come, based on where we are and in terms of our requirements, it is right that we assess that based upon our ambition to hit net zero and a necessity of dealing with climate change – climate change is terrifying – but also putting that next to the requirement for energy security.

“We can’t separate these two things.”