Scottish government bans fracking after public opposition

4th October 2017 | Commercial Energy

The Scottish government has banned fracking after a consultation found overwhelming public opposition and little economic justification for the industry. Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish energy minister, told MSPs that allowing fracking would undermine the government’s ambitions to deeply cut Scotland’s climate emissions, and would lead to unjustifiable environmental damage.

Although Scotland needs natural gas for heating and its chemical industries, economists with KMPG had estimated that allowing unconventional coal and gas extraction to take place would only increase Scotland’s GDP by about 0.1% but cause environmental ruin in areas where it took place.

A public consultation on fracking policy attracted more than 65,000 responses, with about 65% of those from communities in former cola mining areas of central Scotland targeted by the fracking industry. Of those, 99% of respondents opposed it, Wheelhouse said.

It would cause “long-lasting negative impacts on communities,” he said, damaging public health, the environment, and Scotland’s climate goals. A longstanding moratorium in Scotland on allowing planning permission would be made permanent, Wheelhouse added, until Holyrood was given the power to control licensing of oil and gas exploration.

“We have a moral responsibility to tackle climate change and an economic responsibility to prepare Scotland for new low carbon opportunities,” he told the Scottish parliament.
Mary Church, the head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said, “This is a victory for the environment and for local communities fighting fracking. This is a huge win for the anti-fracking movement, particularly for those on the frontline of this dirty industry here in Scotland, who have been working for a ban these last six years.”

Environment campaigners in England said the Scottish government decision, which mirrors a similar ban in Wales, left ministers in London entirely isolated as they continued to support fracking in England.

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