The head of one of Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning groups has accused the SNP of “rigging” its spring conference agenda by excluding a motion calling for a complete ban on unconventional gas and fracking.
Commenting on the omission of the motion put forward by at least 20 SNP party branches, Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “It is disgraceful that the SNP have rigged the agenda of the spring conference to avoid a debate that would embarrass the leadership.
“Following a confused process at last year’s autumn conference, at least 20 branches backed a motion calling for a complete ban on unconventional fossil fuels including fracking.
“Judging by the mood in the room last autumn there is little doubt that had the motion made it onto the spring agenda the party would vote for a full ban.
Dr Dixon added: “Community campaigners and party members across the country will be deeply disappointed with the SNP today.”
The resolution for debate at the conference in Glasgow on 12 and 13 March read: “Conference applauds the SNP’s policies that have made Scotland a greener, fairer and more prosperous country.
“In light of the recent Paris climate change agreement which make it imperative that we move to a post carbon economy, conference calls for a permanent ban on the exploitation of unconventional oil and gas by any means, including test drilling in Scotland as these activities are wholly at odds with Scotland’s obligations under this international agreement.”
Last October an all-out ban on fracking was narrowly defeated at the party conference. A total of 550 delegates supported a moratorium compared with 427 delegates whose aim was to get the party to strengthen its opposition to a full ban.
Scottish Labour accused the SNP of deliberately using ‘delaying tactics’ to avoid discussion on a controversial subject.
Last night a spokesman for Scottish Labour said: “I welcome the commitment that has been shown by many SNP activists to secure protection for Scotland’s communities against dangerous and unnecessary developments by the extremists of the fossil fuel industry.
“Once again the SNP want to stop any sort of debate about fracking until after the election. People will be able to see right through this attempt to avoid taking any decision.”
Patrick Harvie MSP, economy and energy spokesman for the Scottish Greens, said: “I welcome the commitment that has been shown by many SNP activists to secure protection for Scotland’s communities against dangerous and unnecessary developments by the extremists of the fossil fuel industry.
“It must be deeply frustrating for them to be up against a party leadership that’s unwilling to offer voters any clarity on this issue, or even to allow a democratic vote. It’s clear that if we want a government that’s bold enough to tell the likes of Ineos to ‘frack off’, we’re going to need a bold Parliament too, with a strong contingent of Green MSPs.
A spokesman for the SNP said: “Fracking was discussed by SNP conference just three months ago and a position agreed. We don’t hold another debate on the same subject at each conference.”