Politics

New oil and gas developments in the North Sea would be blocked under a Labour government, it has been reported.

Granting new licenses for oil and gas in the North Sea “will do nothing to cut bills”, according to a Labour source.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is expected to announce the block in Scotland next month when he sets out his net-zero energy policy, the Sunday Times reports.

Speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky News, Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said the country had to move towards more renewable sources of energy.

“What we’ll be doing in the coming weeks is outlining how we want to invest in the green jobs of the future to bring bills down to create a more sustainable energy supply,” he said.

“We’ll be outlining that in a significant mission in the coming weeks and we’ll be announcing more details then.

“But we know we’ve got to move to more renewable sources of energy. It’s important for our climate change commitments, but it’s also the way in which we can bring energy bills down for consumers.”

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Labour on renewable energy focus

In January, the Scottish government said in its draft energy strategy that there “should be a presumption against new exploration for oil and gas”.

However, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has backed new oil and gas exploration and the government in Westminster is in charge of energy licences.

A Labour source said: “We are against the granting of new licences for oil and gas in the North Sea. They will do nothing to cut bills as the Tories have acknowledged.

“They undermine our energy security, and would drive a coach and horses through our climate targets.

“But Labour would continue to use existing oil and gas wells over the coming decades and manage them sustainably as we transform the UK into a clean energy superpower.”

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Mr Ashworth said Labour would continue to manage current oil and gas fields.

“This isn’t about shutting down what’s going on at the moment, we will manage those sustainably,” he said.

“If you stop all new exploration, you are going to have to fill the gap from somewhere and it won’t all come from wind. We know that but the sums have been done.”

Labour hopes investment in renewable energies will create more jobs – up to half a million, according to the Sunday Times.

“We do need to invest in wind. We need to invest in tidal, we need to invest in nuclear,” Mr Ashworth added.

“We need more sustainable sources of energy supply in order to bring bills down for consumers and actually create jobs in this green transition.

“There are hundreds of thousands of jobs that will come online from the transition.”

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The North Sea Transition Authority held a licensing round in January for oil and gas exploration projects and said it received more than 100 bids.

Two oil fields, Cambo and Jackdaw, have been given licences.

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