The UK Government’s long-awaited announcement about which industrial decarbonisation projects have been selected to receive funding as part of Track-1 status created, in Scotland, a range of emotions from disbelief through to confusion, frustration and outright anger.
And while we are obviously pleased for HyNet in the Northeast and the East-coast clusters on Teesside and the Humber; there’s no getting away from the fact that the Scottish Cluster’s status as a reserve Track-1 status was somewhat perplexing, raising far more questions than it answered.
The Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy said that the Scottish bid performed to a good standard against the eligibility criteria it had set. However, in the little bit of feedback we’ve had so far, the UK Government said it felt ‘their funding was better placed with other clusters.’
Clearly, we need clarity around this surprising and hitherto unexpected status, does it mean, for example, the Scottish Cluster is well-placed to attract funding if selected for Track-2 status, or could they find themselves in ‘reserve mode’ for that too? Will reserve status for Track-1 mean the Scottish Cluster will attract some Government funding? Comments have been made about the part played by pure politics in the decision-making process and without adding to this, it is clear that this is now the third time that a Scottish project has been rejected.
I am afraid, I do not yet know the answers to these questions but rest assured NECCUS is working hard to find out more. In the meantime, one of the few things I am certain of is that there has never been a more important time to be a member of NECCUS and ensuring that our voice is heard in Holyrood and Westminster and heard very clearly indeed.