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Rayner refuses to rule out scrapping landmark North Sea oil project

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner refused to be drawn on 'hypotheticals' concerning the project's future - Andy Buchanan/PA

The future of a key UK oilfield has been thrown into doubt after Angela Rayner refused to commit to backing a landmark project near the Shetland Islands.

Asked on Friday whether Labour would approve Rosebank, one of Britain’s largest untapped oil fields, Labour’s deputy leader refused to commit to the project.

It comes just a day after the future of the development was thrown into doubt following a Supreme Court ruling that emissions from burning fossil fuels must be considered when approving new drilling sites.

The landmark decision increases the odds that Rosebank will need a new assessment under a Labour government, should the party take power on July 5.

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Ms Rayner told the BBC: “I’m not going to do hypotheticals, but what we have said and what we have set out is that oil and gas is part of the mix for the next three decades. That’s the practicalities of what we face. We can’t rely on oil and gas into the future.

“If there’s a decision to be made at the time then that will come to the secretary of state to make that decision. What we are very clear on is that we can’t rely on it in the future.

“We will always follow court rulings.

“We are the only party that has been very clear that we have to move away from oil and gas. It will be part of the mix for decades to come, but we have to transition to renewables.”

Labour has faced rising criticism over its energy plans, with Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe warning this week that North Sea oil could be taxed “out of existence” by the party.

Sir Keir Starmer is planning to slash North Sea tax alliances, prompting fears the UK will become more reliant on overseas imports and cut its energy security.

Rosebank, which is owned by energy giant Equinor, is expected to deliver 300m barrels of oil.

Equinor said it would continue to “work closely with all relevant parties to progress the project”.

It said Rosebank was a “vital project for the UK and will bring benefits in terms of investment, jobs and energy security.”

Oil and gas provides about 75pc of the UK’s energy demand and the sector employs about 2,000 workers across the UK.