Parties clash on fracking ban
Scottish Parliament - image credit: Holyrood
Scottish Labour has tabled an amendment which would secure the Scottish Government’s ban on fracking in law.
MSPs will today debate fracking, following the Scottish Government’s announcement that it opposes the use of the technique.
But although the SNP, Scottish Labour, the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Lib Dems all support a ban on fracking in Scotland, parties are divided on the best way to do so, with opposition MSPs opposed to ministers plans to enforce the ban through planning powers, rather than in legislation.
More than 60,000 people responded to the Scottish Government’s four month consultation on fracking, with 99 per cent expressing opposition.
Securing the ban in law would stop a future government from overturning it without parliamentary approval.
Meanwhile the Scottish Conservatives are opposed to the ban, with Murdo Fraser tabling an amendment describing the move as “an ill-thought out decision, which completely disregards scientific evidence”.
Environmental groups welcomed the move but called on ministers to secure it in law.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Head of Campaigns Mary Church said: “Unfortunately, the Government’s proposal falls short of committing to passing a law like recent bans in Ireland, Victoria and Maryland.
“This means that a future Government could overturn this decision with the stroke of a pen, while a ban in law would require Parliament’s approval to undo the ban on fracking. Powers over onshore oil and gas licensing are coming to Scotland and we want to see a commitment to use these powers to legislate against fracking as soon as they are in place.”
Fraser has previously described as a “short-sighted and economically damaging decision which is nothing more than a bid to appease the green elements of the pro-independence movement.”
He said: “According to the Scottish Government’s own scientists, the extraction of shale from Scotland, with the right safety checks, could be done safely.
“It could also support thousands of jobs and deliver economic benefits to communities.”
Scottish Labour’s environment spokesperson, Claudia Beamish, said: “Labour’s amendment ensures MSPs will get proper oversight over how the ban is being implemented. This will allow us to continue to hold the SNP to account so we can guarantee no fracking will take place in Scotland.
“It will also ensure this ban cannot be overturned without a full parliamentary vote. A ban on fracking will be a victory for Labour and the people of Scotland.”
Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: “Greens have opposed fracking from the start and it was only three years ago that our push for a fracking ban was voted down and defeated by other parties at Holyrood. That’s why we need to go further today so that no future government succumbs to pressure from the fossil fuel multinationals intent on fracking Scotland.
“The reality is that the pause we have in place now could be gone after the next Scottish Parliament election in 2021. However, today we have a second historic opportunity to vote for a fracking ban that lasts, is legally watertight and gives greater certainty to communities throughout Scotland.
“The Scottish Government’s intention to ban fracking is sincere, but ministers must use the current powers Holyrood has on planning, and the powers that are coming soon on licensing to shut the gate on fracking forever. The ban is almost in place, but to get it over the line government must place it on the same basis as the ban on new nuclear power.”