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Nicola Sturgeon

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Nicola Sturgeon "confident" in legality of decision to ban fracking

The First Minister has defended the Scottish Government’s decision to ban fracking in Scotland, following the news that petrochemical company Ineos has applied for the move to go to a judicial review.

Appearing in FMQs, Nicola Sturgeon also rejected calls for Scotland to divest from fossil fuels, arguing that the Scottish Government must support the North Sea oil and gas industry because of its importance to the economy.

Ineos announced it had “serious concerns” over ministers’ decision to introduce an indefinite moratorium on fracking, via planning powers, and would apply for a judicial review.

The company’s shale operations manager Tom Pickering said: “Ineos, Reach and other operators have invested significantly in unconventional development over the years, against a supportive regulatory and planning backdrop.

"If Scotland wants to continue to be considered as a serious place to do business, then it cannot simply remove the policy support that attracted that investment in the first place without proper procedures being followed and without the offer of appropriate financial compensation."

But taking questions on the Scottish Government’s energy strategy, the FM said the ban was important “for generations to come” and that she was “confident in the decision that we have taken and the process behind it”.

The FM also faced calls from Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie to follow New York in divesting from fossil fuels.

Harvie said: “The UK Government and the Scottish Government like to claim credit for environmental action, but they also want ever bigger tax breaks for the fossil fuel companies that are at the root of our environmental crisis.

“Is it not time to recognise that we can no longer invest our future in the fossil fuel industry and that we should, instead, join the hundreds of cities, institutions and countries that are truly leading?”

But, highlighting the Scottish Government’s support for renewable energy, Sturgeon said: “We support our oil and gas sector appropriately because it is important to our economy and lots of jobs depend on it.”

She said: “In the programme for government we set out our ambition for electric and low-emission vehicles, on which we will take even greater action in the longer term.

She added: “We have also taken the decision not to allow fracking in Scotland. Given this week’s announcement of the judicial review, I will not say more about that other than that we are confident in the decision that we have taken and the process behind it.

“We will continue to lead by example. The issue is important not just for this generation but for generations to come. We all have a responsibility to do the right thing, and this government will continue to make sure that we do it.”

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