Environmental campaigners have accused the UK Government of ‘climate denial’ after their decision to give the Rosebank oil field permission to start development.

The approval by regulators comes despite the mounting climate crisis and scientists’ repeated warnings that the use of fossil fuels must be significantly reduced this decade. 

Campaigners pledged to continue to oppose the huge field containing 500 million barrels of oil, the vast majority of which is likely to be exported for sale on the international market.  Burning all of the oil and gas in this field will produce the equivalent of the annual emissions of 28 low-income countries combined. 

Equinor, who are majority owned by the Norwegian Government, made £62 billion in profit before tax in 2022.  Despite this they are in line to receive over £3.75 billion in tax breaks from the UK Government for developing this oil field, due to the deliberate loophole in the Windfall Tax. This will result in a net loss of £750 million in tax from the Rosebank field.  

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s oil and gas campaigner Freya Aitchison said:

“The disgraceful decision to give Rosebank the green light shows the extent of the UK Government’s climate denial. Fossil fuels are driving both climate breakdown and the cost of living crisis yet the UK Government is slamming its foot down on the accelerator.” 

“The fight against Rosebank will continue. Fossil fuel projects rely not only on government support, but also financing and broader public acceptance. People power forced Shell to pull out of the controversial Cambo oil field and Rosebank is three times bigger. 

“There is widespread anger at this irresponsible decision and we will keep up the pressure on the UK and Scottish Governments to reject the Rosebank oil field, as well as taking the fight directly to Equinor and Rosebank’s corporate financiers.

“Delivering a fair and fast transition away from fossil fuels is one of the defining challenges of Humza Yousaf’s term as First Minister. This must start with unequivocally condemning Rosebank and opposing the UK Government’s decision to go ahead with a project that deliberately prioritises the interests of Equinor while bringing little or no benefit to Scottish people.

“The tide is turning against fossil fuels: climate science could not be clearer that in order to stay within safe climate limits, we must end all new extraction of oil and gas. Equinor has been forced to pull the plug on fossil fuel projects in the past, in the Great Australian Bight and recently on the Wisting oil field in Norway. We can and we must stop them again.”

Energy experts are clear that opening new oil and gas fields in the North Sea is not a solution to the current cost of living crisis and any oil produced will most likely be exported and sold on the international market. The first oil from Rosebank is not expected at the earliest until late 2026 and similar projects have faced legal challenges in recent years which could delay it even further.  

Furthermore, Rosebank is planned to go on extracting oil and gas until 2051, six years after the Scottish Government’s legally binding Net Zero target. The Scottish Government has not explicitly opposed the Rosebank field, despite speaking out against the smaller Cambo field in 2021. 



Rosebank approval  announcement

Rosebank in line for £3.75billion subsidy

Campaigners claims UK to lose £750m in tax if Rosebank oil field approved

Equinor profits before tax in 2022

The Rosebank Environmental Statement submitted by Equinor covers two phases of the Rosebank project, totalling nearly 500 million barrels of oil equivalent. The original proposal for Cambo totalled 170 million barrels of oil equivalent, with the possibility of future expansion.

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:

* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.