Scottish Liberal Democrats vote to back fracking at conference
Scottish Liberal Democrats spring conference 2016 votes on lifting the moratorium on fracking in Scotland
Members of the Scottish Liberal Democrats have voted for a proposal to lift the moratorium on unconventional gas extraction, often known as fracking, at the party’s spring conference in Edinburgh.
Members in the Assembly Rooms backed an amendment to a motion on tackling climate change which proposed “lifting the moratorium on planning and licensing for unconventional oil and gas extraction, granting the potential for Scottish-sourced unconventional gas to supply our important petrochemical industry”.
Party policy since 2013 has been for a ban.
Proposing his amendment, Glasgow list candidate Ewan Hoyle said fracking had become “a political football” but argued there was a sufficient body of evidence that it was safe. The Liberal Democrats had a “proud tradition” of evidence based policy, he said.
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks called the decision “massively disappointing” which undermines efforts to tackle climate change.
“The climate science is very clear that we need to start leaving fossil fuels, including unconventional gas, in the ground,” he said.
Hoyle told conference to use gas extracted in Scotland would have less of a carbon impact than importing it from countries with “dubious human rights records”.
Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie called the decision “classic Lib Dem guddle”.
“Just days ago Willie Rennie told an audience in Glasgow that his party would try to ban fracking even though they agreed to back fracking at their conference three years ago; now he’ll have to campaign for the moratorium to be lifted,” he said.
Meanwhile conference also voted for a motion to prevent energy companies and broadband providers from charging higher energy costs for people in remote areas by removing regional variations.
The party’s energy spokesman Liam McArthur said: “My constituency, and other parts of the north of Scotland, make a substantial contribution to producing the energy that we use in this country.
“We have the potential to create even more through our rich renewable resources. It sticks in the craw for people in the north to be forced to pay over the odds for their electricity.”
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