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Decision put back to year end

Ministers ‘spineless’ for fracking verdict delay

Paul Wheelhouse
Paul Wheelhouse: consultation (Photo by Terry Murden)

Scottish Government ministers have been called “spineless” for delaying a decision on the future of fracking in Scotland until after the local elections.

The SNP government introduced a ban on fracking at the beginning of 2015 and a decision has been awaited.

But today it said was inviting views from the public on the future of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland. This includes hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”  and coal bed methane extraction.

The consultation, Talking Fracking, will run until 31 May – after the local elections.

Business and energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said the debate is “complex and controversial”  and the government would make up its mind “by the end of 2017”.

He said: “The Scottish Government has a very important decision to make in determining the future of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland.

“We will come to a final decision by the end of 2017 on whether or not unconventional oil and gas has a role in Scotland’s energy mix.”

Supporters of shale gas extraction have said it could provide an economic boost for Scotland, as well as create jobs and secure future supplies.

Labour has called for an outright ban on the procedure.

The Conservatives, who are in favour fracking, point out that despite the moratorium Scotland currently imports daily shipments of fracked gas from the US to refine at Grangemouth.

Conservative energy spokesman Alexander Burnett said: “This is another spineless decision by the SNP on the topic of fracking.

“It should be looking at the potential for an economic boom and a more secure supply of power for people in Scotland.

“But instead, it’s pandering to the left of the party because it doesn’t want to lose votes in May’s council elections.

“It is well-established that fracking can be explored safely and sensitively, yet the Scottish Government seems reluctant to even do that.

“And all the while, Scotland risks losing business surrounding the technology south of the border, where the government is altogether more open-minded on this.”

Labour environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish said: “Once again the SNP is kicking a final decision on fracking into the long grass. Voters going to the polls in May’s important local elections still won’t know the SNP’s position on fracking. It’s time for Nationalist ministers to get off the fence and back Labour’s call for a ban on fracking in Scotland.

“I am calling for the government to make a full statement to Parliament on this issue. It’s essential that the public hears a full explanation from Nationalist ministers.

“This is about Scotland’s future, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the condition we leave our planet in for our children and our grandchildren.

“Last year Parliament made clear its opposition to fracking. If the SNP doesn’t act then Labour will. I have introduced a Bill to ban fracking in Scotland. The climate science is clear – the last thing we need is another fossil fuel. We need to fulfil Scotland’s renewables potential and we can’t do that if we allow fracking in our communities.”



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