Call for summit
Greens accused of ‘brass neck’ over Grangemouth plea
The Scottish Greens have criticised plans to shut the Grangemouth oil refinery just days after one of its MSPs described investment in the industry as “utterly reckless and planet-wrecking”.
Green party MSP Gillian Mackay has called for an urgent summit with workers and community representatives following the shock news that hundreds of jobs are being put at risk by its owner.
The Petroineos site, part owned by billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group and PetroChina, is to flip operations and become a fuel and import distribution hub.
Ms Mackay’s plea came ahead of External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson meeting with officials of joint owner PetroChina in Beijing “to look at all options to extend the life of the refinery.”
The Green MSP, who represents Grangemouth and grew up in the community just yards from the site, said workers and the community were “rightly concerned” about what the sudden announcement means for Grangemouth.
She said; “The community needs us all to pull together to ensure a sustainable future for the site can be found that guarantees well paid jobs with good terms and conditions. We urgently need a proper multi-agency process that involves workers from the outset.
“I am calling for the First Minister to convene an urgent summit to involve the community and workers in what comes next. Ineos has treated its workers terribly, and many are feeling anxious and betrayed.
“I grew up right next to the plant. I know how this will impact local people. We urgently need to provide clarity and security for the community and for the hundreds of workers who will be impacted by this announcement.”
But Ms Mackay has been accused of shedding “crocodile tears” over the planned closure.
Scottish Tory MSP Douglas Lumsden said: “The brass neck of this Green MSP is quite staggering, given her party’s vehement hostility to the oil and gas industry and her own previous comments.
“The Greens aren’t interested in a ‘just transition’ they want to decimate the industry immediately with no consideration of the consequences. Gillian Mackay’s crocodile tears for the skilled Grangemouth workers will fool no one – and offend plenty.”
Douglas Lumsden, another Conservative MSP, said the “demonisation” of the oil and gas sector by the SNP, Greens and Labour was undermining the energy sector.
“The message the government is sending out is putting thousands of jobs at risk, including those at Grangemouth,” he said.
The First Minister Humza Yousaf and Neil Gray, the Wellbeing Economy Secretary, have met representatives from Petroineos to discuss the implications of the planned shutdown of Scotland’s only oil refinery. It supplies about two-thirds of the petrol and diesel for garages in Scotland as well as large volumes for the north of England and Northern Ireland.
There have been concerns that closure of the site would scupper the Acorn carbon capture and storage project of which it is a part.
Mr Gray told MSPs on Thursday that he had written to Claire Coutinho, the UK government Energy Secretary, requesting talks on the situation. He said it was important that a “just transition for workers” was at the centre of any decision about the future of the site, but admitted there were huge challenges to overcome to extend the life of the refinery.
He said: “This is a very worrying time for the workers at Grangemouth and I want to assure them of my personal, and this government’s, commitment to ensure they receive the appropriate support.
“Having spoken to refinery senior managers with the first minister this morning, my understanding is that this is not a decision at this point to close the refinery but to start the necessary preparations to transition Grangemouth to an import terminal.
“The management was also clear that this is a commercial decision taken due to global factors and not a decision taken because of anything that this government, or indeed the UK government, has done.”
The Just Transition Commission, an independent expert group that advises the Scottish government, warned that closing the refinery could lead to similar problems at Grangemouth as those seen in communities where coalmines and steel plants were shut down in the 1970s and 1980s.
The commission said it was “deeply concerned that we will see a repeat of previous unmanaged industrial transitions in coal and steel whose harmful effects are still felt by communities across the country”.