Scottish Parliament can and must ban fracking says charity

Fracking cropped

Environmental charity piles pressure on the SNP - which this week abstained in a vote to ban fracking

Graham Martin's photo

2nd June 2016 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

The Scottish Parliament can and must use its powers to completely ban fracking, environmental activists say.

Scotland still faces the prospect of being subjected to the controversial energy extraction process – despite MSPs voting to forbid it.

A charged session of the Scottish Parliament this week saw politicians vote for an outright ban – however, as it arrived as the result of an amendment, it is non-binding.

It came about after Labour forced a vote on the gas extraction technology – which opponents claim causes huge environmental damage.

The SNP's decision to abstain is a cause of regret and I hope they reflect on the result

The SNP – which supports a moratorium rather than an outright ban – abstained, leaving the pro-ban Labour, Green and LibDems to out gun the pro-fracking Tories by 32 to 29.

Nationalists have said a ban could stray into legislative territory reserved to Westminster, which could leave the Scottish Government open to a legal challenge, and thus pave the way for fracking firms.

The SNP – which included opposition to fracking in its recent Holyrood manifesto – also says it is conducting thorough research into the issue.

However, the legal claim has been disputed and environmentalists insist the Scottish Parliament can go ahead with a full ban.

A Friends of the Earth Scotland paper has explored this issue, and a spokeswoman said: “It’s great that the Scottish Parliament has voted to ban fracking and sent this clear message to the government to get on and do it. It is also clear from this vote that there is a growing consensus that stopping climate change means we have to say no to new fossil fuels like fracked gas.

"The many SNP MSPs who stood on an anti-fracking platform in the Holyrood election are clearly feeling the pressure on this important issue.

“We look forward to greater urgency from the Scottish Government in ending the uncertainty for communities faced with unconventional fossil fuel extraction across Scotland.”

Mark Ruskell MSP, climate and energy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said: “This vote is a great result for communities across Scotland who remain at risk of fracking. The SNP's decision to abstain is a cause of regret and I hope they reflect on the result.

"We stand ready to work with them to comply with the wishes of Parliament and help deliver this ban. Holyrood has clearly agreed that fracking and other forms of unconventional gas extraction are incompatible with Scotland’s low-carbon ambitions."

SNP minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The government is deeply sceptical of fracking, and we have ensured that no fracking can take place in Scotland at this time through our moratorium.

“However, we have also set out the need to conduct a full research programme followed by a full consultation of people in Scotland so that any future decisions on fracking are informed fully by the scientific evidence and the views of the people who live and work here.”

8th June 2016 by Rose Burn

There is much independent research that fracking can be carried out quite safely, indeed it is a technique already used in the North Sea!