Scottish Government to publish evidence on risk posed by fracking and coal bed methane extraction

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 8 November 2016 in News

Evidence include Public Health Impact Assessment along with analysis of wider effects on climate, economy, transport, and seismic activity

Fracking sign - credit: Fotolia

The Scottish Government will today publish evidence on the risk posed by fracking and coal bed methane extraction ahead of a public consultation which will take place over the winter.

The evidence on fracking, to be released by Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse following a statement in parliament, will include a Public Health Impact Assessment along with analysis of wider effects on areas such as climate, economy, transport, and seismic activity.

The Scottish Government introduced a moratorium on fracking in January 2015, while it gathered evidence.


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Scottish Labour, the Scottish Greens and Scottish Lib Dems have all called for a ban on the technique, while the Scottish Tories have called for the Scottish Government to drop its moratorium and allow onshore fracking.

Scottish Labour last week announced its own public consultation to inform a Member’s Bill aimed at banning fracking.

Speaking ahead of the statement, Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns Mary Church said she expected the research to “echo the growing body of evidence that documents the negative impacts of fracking on communities, public health, the environment and climate”.

She said: “As the Paris Climate Agreement entered into force last week with its commitment to keep warming under 1.5°C Celsius, a radical change in our energy systems is needed. Nations must commit to leaving fossil fuels in the ground and we hope that the Scottish Government will put climate change at the forefront of its decision-making on fracking.”

The Scottish Parliament passed a motion to ban fracking in June, after Labour, Green and Lib Dem MSPS voted in favour, the Tories voted against and the SNP chose to abstain.

Speaking in the debate Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse argued Parliament should wait until after the Scottish Government’s consultation before making a decision.

Last month the Scottish Government announced it will not support Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in Scotland – a different form of unconventional gas extraction to fracking – with Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse confirming ministers will use planning powers to stop applications going ahead.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Any considered review of the evidence should lead to the conclusion that there is no place for fracking in Scotland’s energy future. The climate science is clear, the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground. 

“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.

“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.”

Last month’s report on UCG warned the technique has a history of incidents of pollution and losses of containment and presents a serious issue in reducing Scotland’s emissions, without an operational storage method, such as carbon capture.

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