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Safety and environment concerns not proved

Murphy says a Scottish Labour government would halt fracking

Jim MurphyA Labour government  in Holyrood would use the new powers recommended by the Smith Commission to stop onshore fracking in Scotland until environmental and safety concerns have been resolved, the party’s Scottish leader Jim Murphy says today.

He argues that the environmental and safety case for fracking has not been made.

The Holyrood government has always had a veto on fracking through the planning process, but it will also get the power to decide on shale gas.

Scottish Labour would said it hold a local referendum before planning approval is given; halt any fracking in Scotland until there is greater understanding of the industry; and conduct a comprehensive review of the baseline conditions before any planning application is granted.

Mr Murphy called on the SNP Government in Edinburgh to use its existing planning powers to stop any onshore fracking in Scotland immediately and said the UK Government should suspend the current fracking licensing round in Scotland until new powers are devolved through the Smith process.

“If I am elected First Minister in 2016 there will be no onshore fracking in Scotland until it has been shown beyond all doubt that it can be carried out safely,” he said.

 “People are rightly concerned about shale gas. They are worried that it will be imposed on their community against their will and without their consent. I will not let that happen.

“So the next Scottish Labour Government will give local communities full control over onshore fracking in their area through a local referendum. No development will be able to take place without a majority of local residents endorsing any planning decision.

“In the past Scotland has been used as a testing ground for bad policies. Mrs Thatcher’s poll tax is an example of this. That should never happen again. No application for onshore fracking will even be considered in Scotland until we see what happens in other parts of the UK. I will not let Scotland become a guinea pig for fracking.

“In Scotland we have a beautiful and bountiful landscape, and a fragile ecosystem that we must protect. Almost all of Scotland is considered to be a drinking water protection area. With this heightened sensitivity, it would be reckless and unnecessary to push ahead with fracking without a thorough and comprehensive review of the baseline conditions in Scotland before any applications can be permitted.

“The SNP Government in Edinburgh already has a veto over fracking through planning and permitting. The First Minister should use these powers now to stop any fracking taking place in Scotland.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Scottish Labour are to be congratulated for putting people and our environment ahead of shale gas fracking. It’s now time for the Scottish Government to come off the fence and finally rule out the development of shale and other unconventional fossil fuels north of the border.

 “The climate science is clear, the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground and not burned. Scotland should instead be playing to its natural advantages in clean, green renewable energy.

 “Given the need to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, it would be good to see a similar or equivalent position adopted by the Labour Party across the rest of the UK.”

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