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Scots to determine fracking plans north of the Border

Words: Roger Milne

The UK government has agreed to exclude Scotland from laws streamlining the regime applied to fracking firms that want to drill for shale gas.

The Infrastructure Bill, currently under detailed scrutiny by MPs in the Commons, is set to allow underground access in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not Scotland.

Labour MP Tom Greatrex had lodged amendments to the bill requesting that full powers over shale gas exploration be transferred to the Scottish Parliament ahead of the general election.

The coalition government did not back the suggestions, but instead pledged to exclude Scotland from the impending legislation.

Holyrood currently has power over planning issues, but the Smith Commission had recommended devolution of onshore licensing and mineral access rights.

But these new devolved powers won’t come to Scotland until after the UK goes to the polls.