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Greenpeace bid to halt Cambo oil field with legal challenge as COP26 looms

A legal challenge to stop the giant Cambo oil field west of Shetland going ahead is being launched in Scotland’s highest court.

In a move to embarrass Boris Johnson’s government just two months before it hosts global climate talks in Glasgow, Greenpeace will demand oil giant BP’s permit to drill be revoked.

The legal case being heard on Wednesday is the first time an offshore oil permit has ever been challenged in court

The controversial Cambo field, which has a potential 30 million barrels of oil, has become the focus of the climate change debate in Scotland.

The oil field is situated 75 miles to the west of Shetland in water over 1,000m deep and is estimated to contain million barrels of oil.

BP has a longstanding licence from the UK government granting permission to search for oil and gas in the area.

Opponents say the massive new oil field would release so much carbon dioxide it would require land the size of Scotland to offset it.

Environmental campaigners have said it would send the wrong message to approve such a scheme in the same year as the COP26 climate conference is held in Glasgow.

Nicola Sturgeon is feeling pressure from campaigners and her new Green Ministers to oppose the development

She has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to reassess the development in light of the “the severity of the climate emergency”.

But Alba party leader Alex Salmond took a swipe at his former SNP colleague and Greens accusing them of indulging in “student politics masquerading as coalition building” on fossil fuels.

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Labour’s Keir Starmer has said there has said the Cambo field should not get the go-ahead and called for a “hard-edged” timetable to end oil and gas exploration but Prime Minister Boris Johnson on a visit to Scotland said existing contracts should not be “ripped up”.

If Greenpeace wins the court battle it could have huge ramifications for how the UK government makes future oil permit decisions.

Mel Evans, head of oil and gas transition at Greenpeace UK, said: “It’s outrageous that the UK government routinely rubber stamps oil permits – like this one and the proposed permit for Cambo – while completely ignoring the climate impact, which causes extreme weather and deaths.”

“We hope the judge will agree that legally this cannot be allowed to happen. It makes no sense for the government to overlook the most harmful consequences of oil and gas when making these decisions.”

Evans added: “We are two months away from hosting global climate talks, and we’re at code red for humanity. BP’s permit must be revoked, and Cambo must be stopped. By setting a clear path to phasedown oil and gas the UK government must then properly support workers and communities through the energy transition.”

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