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Energy / Anti-Rosebank campaigners to take to the streets of Lerwick as Labour pledges green energy jobs and lower bills

Rosebank is situated to the west of Shetland.

A TV crew from Norway’s state broadcaster NRK is expected in Shetland next week to cover a local protest against plans by Norwegian oil and gas giant Equinor to develop the large Rosebank oil and gas field to the west of the isles.

Climate campaigners have been warning for years that opening up new oil and gas fields in the North Sea region goes against the UK’s commitment to limit the warming of the planet to 1.5 degrees.

Local groups are now planning a rally through Lerwick in the late afternoon of Friday 30 June. The protest will follow a climate change workshop at the Islesburgh Community Centre at 3pm.

It comes after an anti-Rosebank protest held in Lerwick earlier this month.

Campaigner Alex Armitage said the reasons for staging another public protest were even more pressing after Labour has reportedly given assurances to Equinor that it will not block Rosebank should the party win the next general election.

Labour leader Keir Starmer was in Scotland on Monday to reveal the party’s plans to turn the UK into an “energy superpower by 2030”, pledging 50,000 clean power jobs in Scotland alone and lowering energy bills.

He said the party’s position is to say no to any new exploration licences, but not interfere with any existing ones, or any granted between now and the next general election.

This means that Rosebank would be unaffected.

A new publicly energy company, GB Energy, would be headquartered in Scotland under Labour plans.

“The route to making Britain a clean energy superpower, slashing energy bills and creating tens of thousands of quality jobs runs through Scotland,” the Labour leader said.

Meanwhile a decision on whether to issue a permit for drilling at Rosebank is expected in the next few weeks.

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Anti Rosebank campaigner and Green councillor Alex Armitage

Armitage said now is the time “to make our voices heard on this issue”.

He added: “Labour has changed its tune on Rosebank over the weekend, under pressure from the right-wing media, having previously said that it would block new oil and gas developments.

“We have to show these politicians that there are political consequences to making the wrong decisions! The science is clear that developing Rosebank is incompatible with our 1.5° commitments.

“There will be a NRK TV crew coming to Shetland to cover the protest for the Norwegian national news.

“Equinor take lots of care and attention to create an image of themselves as a responsible company in the eyes of the Norwegian public. The reality is that they are dramatically scaling back their ambitions on renewable energy, whilst doubling down on fossil fuel production.

“As a company that made £62 billion profit last year, they are uniquely placed to be taking a step forward and investing heavily in the future.

“With our protest next Friday, we have a big platform to challenge Equinor’s narrative in full view of the Norwegian public.”

However, Equinor said the claims made were not correct. A spokesperson said the company had not changed anything in its energy transition plans.

“We are planning accelerated investments in renewables and new low carbon value chains, while continuing to improve our oil and gas business with a steadily lower carbon footprint.

“The energy transition plan is our action plan to be a net zero company in 2050, in line with the goals of the Paris agreement.

“Rosebank can help counteract the decline in domestic UK oil and gas production and provide UK jobs and investments, as well as energy security with a low carbon footprint.

“We hope that we can award contracts for the field development this summer.”

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