Scottish government outlaws fracking
The Scottish government has banned fracking after a consultation found overwhelming public opposition and little economic justification for the industry.
Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish energy minister, told MSPs that allowing fracking would undermine the government’s ambitions to cut carbon emissions, and would lead to unjustifiable environmental damage.
Although Scotland needs natural gas for heating and its chemical industries, economists with KPMG had estimated that allowing unconventional coal and gas extraction to take place would increase Scotland’s GDP by only about 0.1%, but would cause environmental ruin in areas where it took place.
A public consultation on fracking attracted more than 65,000 responses, with about 65% of those from communities in former coalmining areas of central Scotland targeted by the fracking industry. Of those, 99% of respondents opposed it, Wheelhouse said.
It would cause “long-lasting negative impacts on communities”, he said, damaging public health, the environment and Scotland’s climate goals. A longstanding moratorium in Scotland on allowing planning permission would be made permanent, Wheelhouse added, until Holyrood was given the powers to control licensing of oil and gas exploration.
“We have a moral responsibility to tackle climate change and an economic responsibility to prepare Scotland for new low-carbon opportunities,” he told the Scottish parliament.
Mary Church, the head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “This is a victory for the environment and for local communities fighting fracking.”
The Scottish government’s decision will be put to a vote later this year. It is expected to win comfortably.