Legal fracking ban proposal unveiled by Scottish Labour

Plans for a new law that would ban fracking in Scotland will be unveiled by Labour today.

Anti-fracking demonstractors protest at Grangemouth. Picture: Michael Gillen

A members bill by the party’s climate change spokeswoman Claudia Beamish will ramp up the pressure on the Scottish Government to go further than the current moratorium on the practice in Scotland.

The proposals are being unveiled outside the Scottish Parliament this morning on the day that the historic Paris Climate Agreement is ratified. No fracking can currently take place in Scotland while the moratorium is in place and Scottish Government ministers have ordered more research on the issue before deciding whether the ban should be made permanent.

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Ms Beamish said: “This is about Scotland’s future, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the condition we leave our planet in for our children and our grandchildren.

“Labour will change the law to ban fracking in Scotland. The climate science and evidence is clear – the last thing we need is another fossil fuel. We need to fulfil Scotland’s renewables potential and we can’t do that if we allow fracking in our communities.”

Fracking sees natural gas extracted from deep underground rocks through a technique of “hydraulic fracturing.” Water is pumped into the rocks at high pressure, fracturing the rocks and allowing shale gas to escape which is then piped back up to the surface. Nicola Sturgeon has already she is “highly sceptical” about the process.

However critics point out that the process is widespread in the North Sea oil and gas industry. And fracked gas, importing from the US, now powers the petrochemical plant a Grangemouth, Scotland’s biggest industrial site. Owners Ineos insist it could be exploited here to give the country’s flagging economy a much needed boost as central Scotland is believed to be sitting trillions of cubic feet of shale gas potential.

The UK government has granted a fresh wave of fracking licences south of the Border and firms are pressing ahead with a swathe of new fracking developments.

The Greens and Liberal Democrats are likely to support the Labour Bill at Holyrood but it is unlikely to win the support of the Conservatives.

The Scottish Government is also unlikely to commit on the issue before it makes a decision on the future of fracking.

The proposed Labour bill was welcomed by environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Head of Campaigns Mary Church said: “This is a very important step in the fight against fracking.”