Scot­tish gov­ern­ment out­laws frack­ing

The Guardian Weekly - - International news uk news - Sev­erin Car­rell

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.

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