Scot­land’s frack­ing ban to stay, leak re­veals

● SNP will not al­low ex­trac­tion process ● State­ment due in Holy­rood to­mor­row

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By SCOTT MAC­NAB Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

An ac­ci­den­tal leak has re­vealed the Scot­tish Govern­ment will not sup­port fu­ture frack­ing.

En­ergy min­is­ter Paul Wheel­house is ex­pected to for­mally up­date MSPS on the is­sue when he makes a Holy­rood state­ment to­day.

A doc­u­ment ac­ci­den­tally pub­lished early on the Scot­tish Govern­ment web­site said: “On 3 Oc­to­ber 2019, the Scot­tish Govern­ment con­firmed its fi­nal pol­icy po­si­tion of no sup­port for un­con­ven­tional oil and gas.”

The Scot­tish Govern­ment has re­vealed it will not sup­port fu­ture frack­ing in Scot­land af­ter the move was “ac­ci­den­tally” leaked a day early by of­fi­cials.

En­ergy min­is­ter Paul Wheel­house is ex­pected to for­mally up­date MSPS on the is­sue when he makes a Holy­rood state­ment to­day.

Two years ago Mr Wheel­house an­nounced an “ef­fec­tive ban” on frack­ing in Scot­land, but judges found this had no le­gal force af­ter a court chal­lenge was brought by petro­chem­i­cal gi­ant Ineos.

The Scot­tish Govern­ment has been con­duct­ing sev­eral con­sul­ta­tions on frack­ing in or­der to meet the le­gal re­quire­ment and it emerged this week that a de­ci­sion would be un­veiled in this af­ter­noon’s state­ment. But min­is­ters ap­pear to have con­firmed its op­po­si­tion to frack­ing in doc­u­ments pub­lished on the Scot­tish Govern­ment web­site to­day, which form an ad­den­dum to a con­sul­ta­tion from ear­lier this year.

Un­der the head­ing “We Did”, it states: “On 03 Oc­to­ber 2019, the Scot­tish Govern­ment con­firmed its fi­nal pol­icy po­si­tion of no sup­port for un­con­ven­tional oil and gas (UOG).”

Lib­eral Demo­crat en­ergy spokes­men Liam Mcarthur said: “The Scot­tish Govern­ment ap­peared to have con­firmed their po­si­tion on frack­ing via doc­u­ments pub­lished ac­ci­den­tally on­line, rather than by an­nounc­ing it to par­lia­ment more than three years ago when Lib­eral Democrats pressed them to in­tro­duce a ban.

“Across Cen­tral Scot­land com­mu­ni­ties sat on or near sites po­ten­tially ear­marked for frack­ing have been liv­ing in fear of what the Scot­tish Govern­ment might de­cide.

“By drag­ging their feet, min­is­ters have im­posed years of un­cer­tainty on those peo­ple and their com­mu­ni­ties.”

The tech­nique, for­mally known as hy­draulic frac­tur­ing, in­volves rocks up to a mile un­der­ground be­ing “frac­tured” with high pres­sure wa­ter in­jec­tion.

It has prompted con­cerns among en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists it could case earth­quakes, as well as fears over car­bon emis­sions.

Greens en­ergy spokesman Mark Ruskell said the “devil will be in the de­tail” of to­day’s an­nounce­ment.

He said: “A fudged mora­to­rium only keeps the door to le­gal un­cer­tain­ties open. I hope we see a com­mit­ment to a wa­ter­tight leg­isla­tive ban on frack­ing, but it needs to be part of a wider real com­mit­ment to re­duce our re­liance on gas.”

But Tory en­ergy spokesman Alexan­der Bur­nett said: “This frack­ing ban is noth­ing more than a game to the SNP, aimed at pan­der­ing to the ex­treme el­e­ments in the in­de­pen­dence­sup­port­ing green lobby.

“In the process, Scot­land risks miss­ing out on an eco­nomic boom and the chance to lower peo­ple’s en­ergy bills at a time of se­ri­ous fuel poverty.”

Labour’s cli­mate change spokes­woman Clau­dia Beamish called on Mr Wheel­house to de­liver a “con­crete an­swer” in to­day’s state­ment.

“No ifs, no buts, no frack­ing in Scot­land,” she said.

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