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Scotland exempt from fracking law

Scotland exempt from fracking law

The UK Government has agreed to exclude Scotland from legislation designed to make shale gas extraction easier under people’s homes.

The move follows pressure from Shadow Energy Minister and Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Tom Greatex, who had lodged amendments calling for immediate devolution of powers over unconventional gas exploration and mineral rights access to the Scottish Parliament, as recommended by the Smith Commission. Although the coalition government rejected the suggestions, it agreed to leave Scotland out of the new law, leaving current arrangements still standing.

Critics of fracking, an unconventional gas extraction technique in which rocks are fractured using pressurised liquid, have said the process releases chemicals into the water supply and may cause earthquakes. The SNP, Scottish Labour and the Scottish Green Party opposed the new legislation, with Scotland’s central belt earmarked for exploration.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "This decision is a victory for common sense and shows how devolution of energy policy leads to different policy outcomes in Scotland.”

Although denied by the coalition government, Greatex said the concession effectively led to devolution of the powers over the secondary framework. “Whilst some in Holyrood would like to pretend that the Scottish Government is powerless to act over fracking, the truth is that already nothing can happen at all in Scotland without the approval of ministers in Edinburgh. Their control over the planning and permitting regime gives the SNP ultimate responsibility and an effective veto for shale gas extraction in Scotland,” he said. 

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