Parties turn against fracking in Scotland


SCOTLAND appears to be moving decisively against onshore gas extraction, more familiarly known as fracking, after Scottish Labour and the SNP made moves to outlaw the practice over the weekend.

Scottish Labour stated that, if elected in 2016, it would use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to ensure no licenses will be granted in Scotland.

SNP MPs declared that they would be voting in favour of a motion in the UK Parliament today which would see a moratorium on fracking in Scotland, with no licenses granted until powers over onshore gas extraction were devolved to Scotland, as proposed in the Smith Commission.

Scottish Ministers will soon be taking a decision on plans to extract coal-bed methane in Airth, Falkirk, while a similar development at Canonbie in Dumfries and Galloway has been proposed by the Duke of Buccleuch, who owns the estate. Both have been met by community opposition.

Environmental campaigners have stated that fracking poses a serious public health risk, as well as undermining efforts to meet climate change targets.

Ineos, the global chemicals company which owns the Grangemouth plant in Scotland, has bought the rights to frack for shale gas in the Grangemouth area, but no specific application has yet been forthcoming.

The Sunday Herald reported yesterday that a fallout between Joan McApline, SNP MSP, and Fergus Ewing MSP, Energy Minister, over the proposed development in Canonbie led to McAlpine writing to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stating her “deep concern” over the Energy Minister’s position.

McAlpine stated her opposition to the Canonbie development at a local meeting, leading to the Chief Executive of the Duke of Buccleuch estates, John Glen, writing to the Energy Minister expressing his concern about McAlpine’s intervention. The Energy Minister scolded McAlpine, and sent a letter back to the Duke of Buccleuch agreeing that there was an “opportunity to create employment and economic development through unconventional activities within the Canonbie area.”

McAlpine’s letter to the First Minister in response stated: “The Energy Minister and his officials are directing policy in this area and regularly refer to unconventionals as an economic opportunity for Scotland. The Environment Minister appears to be excluded from decision making.”

The Energy Minister is due to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament this week.

There is a growing pressure on the UK government to implement a moratorium on fracking in all parts of the UK. The UK Environmental Audit Committee has warned that onshore gas extraction could pose a risk to public health and is not compatible with the country’s climate change commitments.

Picture courtesy of Ric Lander