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Scottish Parliament votes to ban fracking

Words: Roger Milne

The Scottish Parliament has voted to support an outright ban on fracking after Scottish National Party MSPs abstained.

The Labour party tabled an amendment to cabinet environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham's motion asking Parliament to agree that “wise and productive” use of the country’s natural capital is at the heart of a “strong sustainable, low-carbon economy". The amendment said there "should" be a full ban.

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said there needed to be proper research and a public consultation before a decision was taken on fracking.

The amendment, which is not a binding policy, was passed on a vote, 32 to 29.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG), the representative body for UK onshore oil and gas, explained: “The Scottish Government announced a process in January 2015 which included a research phase and then a public consultation phase. This is not due to finish until the summer of 2017. UKOOG and its members have been participating in this process from the beginning and will continue to do so.

“The process is meant to present the facts to the Scottish people and so we are disappointed today to see that some within the Scottish Parliament are trying to derail it.”

Cunningham used the debate to outline her priorities. She promised to consult on a public register of controlling interests in land in early summer and to establish the Scottish Land Commission by 1 April, 2017.

She also pledged more ambitious climate change targets.

The environment secretary told MSPs: “Our land, our air, our seas, our climate, our flora and our fauna - there can be no doubt that our stunning natural environment is one of Scotland’s most precious assets. How we own, manage, control, conserve, promote, support and develop all of these individually and collectively matter hugely to this government’s ambitions for our country.“

Image credit | Shuttershock