The SNP’s Westminster leader has claimed the Scottish Government’s harder stance against fossil fuels will not have “a direct impact on potential future investments” in the North Sea – despite Nicola Sturgeon suggesting new drilling should not go ahead.

Stephen Flynn has been accused of "deliberate ambiguity" by climate activists over his stance on phasing out oil and gas.

The Aberdeen South MP, who became leader of the SNP’s Westminster party last year, has reportedly been sceptical in private about the Scottish Government’s plans to accelerate winding down the North Sea oil and gas sector.

The Scottish Government is considering speeding up wanting to shut down the industry before 2050, by when supplies will have run out without intervention, according to new analysis.

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The First Minister, when pressed over the controversial Cambo oil field plans, previously said that did not “think we can continue to give the go ahead to new oil fields”.

She added: “I don't think that Cambo should get the green light."

SNP Environment Minister Mairi McAllan told MSPs in November that ““we do not agree with the UK Government issuing new oil and gas licences”.

Mr Flynn has suggested that all it would take for developments like Cambo to go ahead is a strengthened climate compatibility checkpoint by the UK Government.

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Speaking to the Daily Record, Mr Flynn said: “My position on Cambo has never really deviated.

"If it meets the climate compatibility checkpoint, if that's a strengthened climate compatibility checkpoint, as what the Scottish Government would like to see, then I'm not sure why it wouldn't go ahead.

"But it would need to meet the threshold as laid out. That threshold, as I understand it... does take into consideration the necessity for energy security."

He added: "I'm not entirely sure whether the Scottish Government's position, in terms of the statement that they have made, will have a direct impact on potential future investments in drilling in the North Sea. 

"What I would hope is that industry would look at it on the basis of the fact that the Scottish Government been clear in and around the climate compatibility checkpoints but also the case of marrying needs of energy security.

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"It will be for industry to highlight whether the developments that they want to take forward will meet those requirements."

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s head of campaigns, Mary Church, said: “The evidence is even clearer now than it was in 2021 when the First Minister spoke out in opposition to the Cambo oil field - new oil and gas extraction is not compatible with a liveable future.

"No truly robust climate compatibility test would ever give the go-ahead to massive, polluting developments like Cambo, so the SNP leadership needs to get clear on its position and reject all new oil and gas extraction outright."

She added: "If even the Westminster leader of the SNP doesn't understand what the Scottish Government's position is, how is the energy sector or anyone else supposed to?

"There is no room for any new oil and gas development, and some fields already under production must be phased out early for any chance of avoiding catastrophic warming.

"It's time for the SNP to move on from the rhetoric and deliberate ambiguity and get off fossil fuels within this decade."

Earlier this week, Mr Flynn parroted a Conservative argument for new oil and gas fields to be allowed – pointing to energy security needs.

The Aberdeen South MP used the justification despite the Scottish Government’s new energy strategy stating that continued fossil fuels extraction in the North Sea “will not resolve the challenges of energy cost or energy security”.