First minister met fracking boss on day of fracking moratorium


Anti-fracking campaigners “alarmed” by revelation

FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon met Jim Ratcliffe, boss of oil giant Ineos which owns the fracking licenses in Scotland, on the day the moratorium on fracking was announced in the Scottish Parliament by her energy minister, it has been revealed.

The revelation has increased fears among anti-fracking campaigners that Ineos has been given assurances that fracking will go ahead after the moratorium is up, as Richard Dixon, Friends of the Earth Scotland, said he was “alarmed” by the news.

He told The Herald, which uncovered the information via a freedom of information request: “Ineos plan 1,400 wells across Scotland and seem to be carrying on as if there was no moratorium.” (Click here to read more).

Ineos announced after the fracking moratorium that it had bought more fracking licenses in Scotland and was starting a public awareness campaign about the benefits of fracking, including offering communities with fracking wells money from the profit returns of fracking. (Click here to read more).

The company, which owns the Grangemouth oil and refinery plant, stated prior to the moratorium that delays would be a disaster for the future of Scottish energy sustainability, but after the moratorium was announced it stated that it “understood the importance of consultation… We welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to manage an evidence-based approach”.

The meeting between Sturgeon and Ratcliffe was understood to take place at about the same time as the Energy Minister Fergus Ewing made his announcement of the moratorium, delaying any planning permission decisions on fracking in Scotland until the powers are devolved over onshore gas extraction from the Smith Agreement.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said the meeting was scheduled long before Ewing’s moratorium announcement.

Ed Pybus, spokesman for Frack Off Scotland, told The Herald: “Why was the First Minister meeting with these people and not someone further down the tree? What promises were made in exchange for their public support for the moratorium? I fear that local communities are being stitched up by backroom deals.”

Anti-fracking campaigners say they want an outright ban on fracking. The underground drilling technique has been widely used in the US, and campaigners warn that fracking creates toxic pollution and even cause earthquakes.

A conference was held in February by the Radical Independence Campaign with speakers from Friends of the Earth and other grassroots anti-fracking campaigns to discuss how to increase the pressure on the Scottish Government to ban fracking outright. (Click here to read more).

Picture courtesy of Ric Lander