Greens from Falkirk and Lanarkshire have called for Grangemouth refinery and petrochemical to be taken into public ownership and renovated to secure the post-oil future of thousands of jobs.
The proposal, which would see Grangemouth become a centre for sustainable biofuels and plastics manufacturing, is part of new research commissioned by the Scottish Green MSPs, which shows how a planned transition from fossil fuels to green energy could create 200,000 jobs across Scotland.
Kirsten Robb, the Greens' candidate for the Central Scotland region, said nationalising and retooling Grangemouth would guarantee at least the number of jobs currently on the site, and remove any need for fracking or underground coal gasification (UCG).
"Everyone knows oil won't last for ever. Petrochemical workers deserve a plan for what comes next, and they can rely on the Greens to make sure they get one.
"Retooling Grangemouth to manufacture the fuels and plastics of the future will put central Scotland at the cutting edge of the new materials industry, securing at the very least the 3,300 jobs currently at the plant, with potential for growth.
"But we've learned the hard way that corporate owners have no interest in making that investment when they can simply suck the last profits out of fossil fuels, blackmail the government for a few handouts, then move on to pull the same trick elsewhere. Grangemouth is an essential national asset, and should be brought into public ownership where it can receive the investment it needs to thrive for generations to come.
"Ineos are preparing to use Grangemouth as their hostage in negotiations with the Scottish Government over the end of its temporary moratorium on fracking. We should not tolerate livelihoods being held to ransom, especially when that workforce has the skills not just to survive without Ineos' generosity, but to carve out a position as world leaders in their field.
"As well as securing the future of Grangemouth, the Green report shows how Scotland can create 200,000 jobs in insulating our housing to be warm and energy-efficient, building and maintaining offshore renewables technology for domestic use and export, reforesting Scotland for forest products and tourism, and many other industries.
"Our green energy future can guarantee the high-quality jobs that will underpin a fair economy and a fair society, but none of this will happen by accident. We need decisive government action, while we can still reap the benefits of being first into the race, to make sure that these enormous opportunities don't pass us by."
Kirsten previously founded and ran her own energy-efficiency business, helping colleges save energy costs and cut carbon emissions.
The effort to secure Grangemouth jobs was attacked by the town's MSP, Angus MacDonald, on Twitter. The Falkirk East MSP said "Let's not forget the Greens would shut down our oil industry tomorrow if they could!", suggesting he had not read the report which calls for a managed and just transition to a green energy economy.
Falkirk Green Mari-Ellena Corvi, who is from Bo'ness and is also a Green candidate for Central Scotland, said:
"I was very disappointed that Angus MacDonald lashed out on Twitter at the Green plan to secure Grangemouth jobs, without apparently having even read it. His aggressive rejection makes me really hope he already has a plan to guarantee the plant and its jobs - if so, I know everyone in Grangemouth would want to hear what it is.
"At the moment, the only plan other than the Greens' is Jim Ratcliffe's plan to leave Grangemouth with outdated technology and to feed it with dangerous fracking and unconventional gas extraction - a plan he claims the Scottish Government don't oppose. Even if Angus MacDonald can't give us his full plan, we would appreciate a straight answer on whether the SNP are going to allow fracking in Scotland, or listen to threatened communities and institute a permanent ban.
"Local SNP and Green members have worked together well on the referendum and other campaigns - including against fracking - but if the SNP leadership can't see the value of listening to others' ideas then I'm afraid they risk going the same way as Scottish Labour."
The report, Jobs in Scotland's New Economy was published by the Green MSPs Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) and Alison Johnstone (Lothians) on Monday 24 August. Its final recommendations include:
Take Grangemouth Refinery and Petro-chemical plant into public or part-worker-public ownership.
This will make it easier to retool and restructure Grangemouth to make synthetic fuels and gas from sustainable biomass. Workers should take on a central role in the restructuring process and running of operations.
It gives a wide range of other new ideas to build Scotland's green energy future, including:
- Creating a publicly-owned renewables company to encourage offshore wind, tidal and wave developments,
- Prioritising North Sea decommissioning work,
- Launching a national insulation retrofit programme,
- Launching a large-scale reforesting programme, and
- Making available support packages for fossil fuel workers to aid their transition to new sectors.
You can read more about Jobs in Scotland's New Economy, and download the full report (PDF), at the Scottish Green Party website. You can also read blogs about the research from Scottish Greens Co-Convenors Maggie Chapman and Patrick Harvie.