Charities welcome Labour fracking ban bill and urge Holyrood and Government to seize the moment
ENVIRONMENTAL CHARITIES have welcomed the announcement by Scottish Labour that a private member’s bill banning fracking will be lodged on the same day [Friday 4 November] that the Paris Agreement on climate change comes into force.
The proposal will seek an outright ban on onshore unconventional oil and gas (UCG) extraction, including shale gas fracking and coalbed methane and will be brought by Claudia Beamish MSP, the Labour spokesperson for environment, climate change and land reform.
Both Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoEs) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Scotland have said that since there is “overwhelming” support for clean energy an “ultimate ban is necessary”.
Responding to the news of the private member’s bill FoEs head of campaigns, Mary Church, said: “This is a very important step in the fight against fracking. The grounds for banning unconventional oil and gas are absolutely crystal clear in the context of the climate crisis we are facing and the threat that fracking presents to public health.
“While the current moratorium has halted the immediate threat of fracking, ultimately a ban is necessary.
“It's useful that Labour has kicked off a process that starts the thinking on how we actually ban fracking. We urge MSPs and parties to get behind this Bill and work together to protect the environment and end uncertainty for communities.”
The Scottish Parliament voted to ban fracking and other forms of unconventional oil and gas extraction in June of this year, with Scottish Green, Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs voting together to defeat the Conservatives who opposed a ban on UCG.
However, the SNP abstained and the motion, once passed, was not binding on the Scottish Government.
“While the current moratorium has halted the immediate threat of fracking, ultimately a ban is necessary.” Mary Church
The Scottish Government currently has a moratorium on onshore oil and gas extraction stating that it is important to base an outright ban on research. As a result, it has commissioned numerous studies on the effect of fracking on the climate, public health, economic, seismic and transport factors which will be published next Tuesday. Additionally, the government will hold a public consultation later this year, concluding in 2017.
The director of WWF Scotland, Lang Banks, was enthusiastic about the bill.
He said: “It’s great to see Scottish Labour acting on its commitment to an outright ban on fracking by bringing forward this bill.
“There is overwhelming public opinion in favour of cleaner forms of energy and a sufficient body of evidence on why unconventional oil and gas are neither good for people or the planet.
“The climate science is clear, the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground. Scotland should instead be playing to its natural advantages in clean, green renewable energy and capitalising on the jobs, climate benefits and health improvements a zero carbon future can deliver.”
“There is overwhelming public opinion in favour of cleaner forms of energy and a sufficient body of evidence on why unconventional oil and gas are neither good for people or the planet.” Lang Banks
Campaigners within the SNP have previously voiced their support for an absolute ban of fracking, including SNP members against unconventional oil and gas (Smaug).
In January of this year, over a dozen SNP branches saw their motion to ban fracking fail to make it on to the party’s conference agenda, upsetting environmentalists. Party officials stated that fracking had already been discussed at the 2015 October conference in Aberdeen, and that therefore a motion was not necessary.
The Scottish Government also claims a strong record on climate change in general. In June, Scotland exceeded a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent six years ahead of schedule.
"The science is clear, we don't need another fossil fuel and we need to transition to clean energy.” Claudia Beamish
The Labour party across the UK and Scotland itself has come under pressure from groups such as the GMB union and companies such as Shell and Ineos for “not being serious about energy”. GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith came out in September and said no fracking in Scotland meant that “…UK will rely on henchman, hangmen and headchoppers” for energy imports.
Scottish Labour environment and climate change spokesperson Claudia Beamish said: "Scotland can send a message to the world by banning fracking. That’s why I am announcing my proposal on the day that the global Paris Climate Change Agreement comes into force. This is about the kind of Scotland we want to leave our grandchildren.
“The science is clear, we don't need another fossil fuel and we need to transition to clean energy.
“The other parties in Holyrood should back my bill. SNP MSPs face a choice: they can work with Labour and ban fracking or they can work with the Tories to allow drilling under family homes in central Scotland."
Picture courtesy of Erik Gustafson
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