The Scottish public backs the positive impact of the North Sea energy sector, according to new polling unveiled today by advisory firm True North.

The research, undertaken by Survation, shows that some 61% of the population think that energy companies operating in UK waters provide a boost to the UK economy.

On the day that consultation on the Scottish Government’s Draft Energy Strategy ends, the survey shows that a huge majority of people (75%) believe that the UK should meet its demand for oil and gas from domestic production rather than importing energy from overseas — challenging the presumption against new oil and gas exploration contained in the government’s draft plan.

This week sees over 8,000 delegates descend on Glasgow for the All-Energy and Dcarbonise exhibition and conference, with key industry leaders and government decision-makers discussing the future on energy innovation in a fast-changing world.

True North’s poll contains challenges for both public and business sector stakeholders. People across Scotland see renewables as a secure career path, whilst the population is split on whether a future in oil and gas remains an attractive prospect — with a challenge for industry to talk up the transferability of skills within the energy sector.

Meanwhile, only a third of Scots think that businesses have the right support from government to create jobs in renewables and low-carbon industries.

Interestingly in that context, the country splits down the middle on support for the Holyrood power-sharing pact between the SNP and Greens with 36% in favour, 37% against and 20% ambivalent towards it, including some scepticism among SNP voters. These figures suggest that First Minister Humza Yousaf may have more to do to prove the worth of the Bute House agreement.

True North will release further polling results over the coming days, with new data on a number of topical issues including political preferences and Scotland’s economy.

Commenting, True North Managing Partner Fergus Mutch said: “A number of assumptions about the energy sector are turned on their head when you get the views of the public at large.

“Energy firms operating in the North Sea have been much vilified by governments over the past year, and yet people recognise the key role they play in delivering energy security and creating the revenues and high-quality jobs that are so critical to growing our economy.

“And, crucially, it will be these companies which lead the way in delivering the government’s objectives in a transition away from oil and gas towards renewables in the years ahead.

“However, in the here and now, it makes no sense to pull the rug from underneath the energy sector by importing more fossil fuels at a higher cost and carbon footprint while we have reserves on our doorstep which can satisfy demand and a highly skilled workforce.

“Through the coming years of energy transition we can realise significant economic benefits to Scotland, rather than losing valuable jobs and opportunities to overseas.

“By a factor of seven to one, people across Scotland understand this argument — and industry will hope to see a subtle, pragmatic shift in emphasis away from a ‘presumption against oil and gas’ once the Scottish Government reviews its draft energy strategy.

“All eyes are on Glasgow this week, with the All-Energy conference looking to the future. There’s a challenge for industry in the findings of this poll, in ensuring that energy careers are seen as a bright, long-term prospect for young people. But there’s a challenge for government in there too — to equip businesses with the support that they need to create jobs at scale in renewables and low-carbon technologies.”

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