Scottish Government approves ban on fracking

The Scottish Government has announced an "effective ban" on the growth of shale gas in the country after a public consultation found that citizens are overwhelmingly opposed to fracking.

Communities do not believe there is a strong economic argument when balanced against the environmental and health risks posed by shale, Scottish Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse said yesterday (3 October). 

A four-month consultation received more than 60,000 responses and found approximately 99% of respondents to be opposed to fracking.

“The Scottish Government will not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland,” Wheelhouse said.

“Having taken account of the interests of the environment, our economy, public health and the overwhelming majority of public opinion, the decision I am announcing today means fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland.

“We have undertaken one of the most far-reaching examinations of unconventional oil and gas ever carried out by any government, anywhere.”

‘Excellent news’

The Scottish Government has written to local authorities to assert that a long-standing moratorium will remain in place. A parliamentary vote will take place in the near future, following by a strategic environmental assessment.

The announcement has been welcomed by vast sections of the green community, with WWF Scotland describing it as “excellent news” for those that have campaigned against fracking in recent years.

“It’s excellent news the Scottish Government has listened to the thousands of people, campaigners, and politicians across the country who have been calling for a permanent ban to fracking,” WWF Scotland acting director Dr Sam Gardner said.

“The climate science is clear. The vast majority of fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground.  It’s fantastic Scottish Ministers agree that we need to start placing them off limits.” 

‘Failure of democracy’

Green campaigners are now urging the UK Government to follow suit. Despite public backing for fracking falling in recent times, the Conservatives have pledged to develop the shale industry in Britain, claiming that the technology will play a “critical role” in domestic energy supply and boosting the economy. 

Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Elisabeth Whitebread called on the Tories to “stop chasing” fracking against a tide of public opposition.

She said: “Unlike Westminster, Holyrood is listening to public opinion. We already have more gas than we can afford to burn, and as well as damaging the climate, fracking will cause local noise, air and light pollution

“By announcing an outright ban on this new fossil fuel industry in Scotland, and using a fair process to reach their decision, the SNP Government is leading the way towards the clean energy system that people want.

“The Conservative Government in Westminster is now alone in backing fracking and looks very isolated indeed. Across England, growing numbers of local people will continue to oppose fracking and the failure of democracy on this issue. Conservatives in Westminster should stop chasing fracked gas, that we don’t need, and the overwhelming majority don’t want.”

George Ogleby

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