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by Tom Freeman
26 March 2019
Scottish Government delays decision on full fracking ban

Paul Wheelhouse - David Anderson/Holyrood

Scottish Government delays decision on full fracking ban

The future of fracking in Scotland is still uncertain after the Scottish Government said it will consult again on whether to ban the practice.

Previously the Scottish Government said it endorsed an “effective ban” but would come to a final decision by the end of March.

However, on Tuesday energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said this had been delayed subject to further consultation, which will begin after Easter.

Government was challenged in court after it announced a moratorium on shale gas extraction would continue indefinitely in 2017. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had told SNP conference “fracking is banned in Scotland”.

The government’s lawyer said the statement had been “the language of a press statement”, adding ministers had yet to adopt a position.

In response to a parliamentary question from Falkirk MSP Angus MacDonald, Wheelhouse said: “In line with the initial consultation in late 2018, views will be invited over a period of eight weeks, and the responses analysed prior to publication.

“Our final policy on unconventional oil and gas will be confirmed and adopted as soon as possible after this process is complete.”

The announcement was met with frustration by campaigners.

The Scottish Greens and Scottish Labour have called for a legislative ban on fracking.

Scottish Labour Environment spokesperson Claudia Beamish said: “The SNP government is kicking this issue into the long grass yet again. This would be the third government public consultation on fracking and the fourth overall including the consultation on my member’s bill.

“This looks like a cynical attempt to try and keep a ban on fracking out of the upcoming Climate Change Bill. That would be unacceptable.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat energy spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said: “This confusion at the heart of the Scottish Government’s approach has left communities worrying about their futures.

“Liberal Democrats are clear that embarking on a whole new front of carbon-based fuels and energy production would do nothing to help meet our climate commitments.”

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