Narrow vote in parliament
Fracking ban will not bind Scottish government
The vote, 32 to 29 in favour of a ban, itself does not mandate the government which insists that no decision will be taken on the controversial drilling technique until a review is complete.
However, it puts more pressure on energy minister Paul Wheelhouse and his government colleagues who imposed a moratorium on fracking last year.
Fracking – hydraulic fracturing – is a process of extracting shale gas from underground rocks. There have been concerns that it can produce earthquakes and affect water supplies.
In Wednesday’s debate the Nationalist MSPs abstained on a motion calling for the practice to be ruled out in future, allowing the combined Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat ranks to out-vote the Tories who support the process.
Labour has been vociferously campaigning against fracking and following the vote its environment spokesman Claudia Beamish said: “The SNP government must now clarify whether or not they will respect the will of parliament and introduce an outright ban on fracking. It would be outrageous for this important vote to be ignored.
“There is no doubt about the science – to meet our climate change goals and protect our environment we need to develop low carbon sources of energy, not another fossil fuel. Labour’s position is clear: no ifs, no buts, no fracking.”
Grangemouth owner Ineos wants to employ the technique in central Scotland to access a cheap source of energy which would feed into its chemicals plant (pictured). It currently imports shale gas from the US.
Mr Wheelhouse said: “We are deeply sceptical about fracking and, through our moratorium, we have ensured that no fracking can take place in Scotland. Our abstention in this parliamentary vote respects and is in line with that moratorium.”
The Tories support experts who say fracking would create a huge new industry creating tens of thousands of jobs.