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Scotland makes fracking ban permanent

Words: Laura Edgar
Fracking ban / Shutterstock_313134215

The Scottish Government has set out a ‘policy of no support’ for unconventional oil and gas development – or fracking – in Scotland.

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse confirmed this position in the Scottish Parliament today (3 October).

The move follows a period of evidence gathering and consultation.

Wheelhouse explained the factors that led to the decisions, including that unconventional oil and gas development is incompatible with climate change policy.

The Scottish Government will not issue any more licences for the practices and the country’s planning framework will not support such development.

In June 2016, the Scottish Parliament voted to support an outright ban fracking, while early in 2017, a consultation began on the future of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland. After the consultation, which received more than 60,000 responses, Wheelhouse announced that the Scottish Government would not support fracking. By this point a moratorium against fracking was already in place; this lack of support saw the moratorium continue.

Wheelhouse said: “The Scottish Government’s final policy position is that we do not support the development of unconventional oil and gas – often known as ‘fracking’ – in Scotland.

“That decision followed consideration of many factors including the significant negative effects that unconventional oil and gas development could have on our natural environment and the health and wellbeing of communities, while bearing in mind the overwhelming feedback from the public that this should not be permitted in Scotland.

“After a comprehensive evidence-gathering exercise, we have concluded that the development of onshore unconventional oil and gas is incompatible with our policies on climate change, energy transition and the decarbonisation of our economy.

“Fracking can only happen if licences are issued and we do not intend to issue any licences which would permit that.”

The Scottish Government’s position will be reflected in the National Planning Frame 4, a draft of which is expected to be published for consultation in the third quarter (July to September) of 2020.

Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said: "It is of course very welcome that Ministers have announced they are keeping the indefinite moratorium on fracking in place, but frustrating that today's decision falls short of the full legal ban that would put the issue to bed once and for all.

“The inclusion of the policy of no support for fracking in the National Planning Framework would certainly strengthen the present position, but the energy minister acknowledged that he can't confirm this will happen before the next Holyrood elections, which could see a new Government with a different approach to fracking in power. The Minister indicated that the door hadn't been closed on legislating to prohibit fracking if evidence that further action was needed arose, and we urge the Parliamentary parties who are opposed to the industry to stay vigilant to the need and opportunity for this.

“Clearly the government haven’t gone as far as they should have, but the fact that there has been no fracking in Scotland for the last five years is a huge victory for campaigners and communities across Scotland."

Read more:

Scottish Parliament votes to ban fracking

Scottish Government publish unconventional oil and gas research

Fracking and shale gas consultation starts in Scotland

Scottish Government says no to fracking

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