Meet the frackers

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After claiming it lacked the powers to deal with fracking, the Scottish Government has now come off the fence and blocked it in Scotland until further research is undertaken (your report, 29 January).

Who doubts that this research will be published shortly after the 2016 Holyrood election?

What this research will add to the debate is not entirely clear. Existing published work shows that even modest environmental regulation will mean that the problems faced in the US will be easily avoided or render fracking non-viable.

The real challenge facing fracking in Scotland is that many of the reserves are within or near urban areas – much of them former mining towns and villages. While the environment may be safe, fracking in these areas will come with significant disruption, particularly in the early stages of development.

If the Scottish Government does back fracking – and I feel it will – it must therefore ensure that local communities are convinced it is safe and also that they benefit directly.

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy’s proposal for a local referendum appears to be ideally suited to this. It will force frackers to engage directly with communities by making binding environmental protection commitments and to support community projects. Such an approach would channel a fair share of the profits into some of Scotland’s most deprived areas.

(Dr) Scott Arthur

Buckstone Gardens

Edinburgh

The energy minister, Fergus Ewing, has announced that there is a to be a “moratorium on fracking” in Scotland, and that the “public are to be consulted” (your report, 29 January).

In March 2014, when Dumfries & Galloway Council asked for a “moratorium on wind farms” as they were so overwhelmed with applications, the same energy minister advised that he had no power to delay or postpone applications, and the council’s request was summarily kicked into touch. He had no power then, but he seems to have found power now, yet mysteriously the law hasn’t changed.

In addition, he says, the “public must be consulted”. But the public already has the right to be consulted about any application for planning permission, and to have its say, and to have its opinion, both lay and expert, fully taken into account.

Bogus populism, or pandering to the greenatic fringe? I think we should be told.

Graham Lang

Scotland Against Spin

Ceres, Fife

On the subject of fracking, does anyone seriously believe it is not going to happen?

Arguments about the pit-head works creating a blot on the landscape will fall on the deaf ears of our present government, which has done its best to destroy our beautiful Scottish landscapes with its confounded wind farms (ironically all in the name of ecology!) and I wouldn’t be surprised if its initial opposition to the works was purely because of Westminster’s approval to exploratory work in England.

The reality is that there is a vast reserve of untapped fuel under our feet, compared with which the North Sea reserves will potentially pale into insignificance.

In the US, shale gas fracking has already halved domestic fuel bills while still raising huge tax revenues for the government. v

For any government, the bottom line is always money, and despite all the fine words, this bounty will not be ignored.

Walter J Allan

Colinton Mains Drive

Edinburgh