Fracking moratorium is "holding back" oil and gas industry, says Tory MSP Murdo Fraser
Nicola Sturgeon rejects claims as “complete nonsense”
Murdo Fraser has accused the SNP of “holding back” the oil and gas industry by introducing a moratorium on fracking.
But Nicola Sturgeon rejected the claims as “complete nonsense”, saying the Scottish Government’s decision on whether to allow fracking would be driven by scientific evidence along with public opinion from communities affected.
In FMQs Fraser claimed the Scottish Government’s own research proved fracking was safe and pointed to recent research from Bank of Scotland on the oil and gas industry, which he said showed “a majority of large companies see the opportunity to diversify into shale gas”.
Fraser said: “Sadly, the opportunities – and the jobs that will be created – will be located outside Scotland due to the Government’s moratorium on fracking.”
He added: “Why is the First Minister not listening to her Government’s own scientists on the matter? Why is she holding back the vital oil and gas industry?”
The First Minister responded: “The moratorium on fracking has been introduced so that we can carefully study all the different aspects before coming to a decision that is guided by and based on evidence, and also takes into account public opinion – the opinion of members of the public who would have to live in areas affected by such technology. That is absolutely the right thing to do.
She continued: “Interestingly, when it comes to diversification, Murdo Fraser did not quote the report fully, because the companies that talked about the opportunities of diversification also talked about the opportunities of diversification into renewables.
“I wonder why a Tory member of the Scottish Parliament did not want to mention renewables. It is because—against all the evidence, against the wishes of people the length and breadth of this country, and against some of the investment decisions of our companies—the Tory UK Government is currently destroying our renewables potential by the wrong-headed decisions that it is taking.”
Sturgeon said the UK Government holds “the key taxation levers” required to stimulate the North Sea oil and gas industry.
She said: “A clear conclusion from the report is that more action must be taken on that front, with around half of all companies wanting to see a basin-wide fiscal stimulus for exploration. We continue to press the UK Government to support exploration and to deliver on its commitment to consider loan guarantees for offshore infrastructure.”
Meanwhile Labour MSP Jackie Baillie called on the Scottish Government to publish an updated Oil and Gas Analytical Bulletin.
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