Pressure mounts on SNP to confirm total ban on fracking

SNP ministers are being pressed to confirm a total ban on fracking. Picture: Michael Gillen
SNP ministers are being pressed to confirm a total ban on fracking. Picture: Michael Gillen
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Failure to introduce an outright ban on fracking will be a “betrayal” of Scotland’s climate change commitments, SNP ministers have been warned.

Reports have suggested the Scottish Government could confirm within days that it is to outlaw the controversial practice.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens have already made their opposition to fracking clear, with Labour having pledged to bring forward legislation if the Scottish Government fails to act.

Labour environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish made clear she would press ahead with that if ministers did not ban the practice completely, adding: “Anything less than an outright ban of onshore fracking in all its forms would be a betrayal by the SNP Government of our climate change commitments, our communities and the job opportunities now and for future generations in clean, renewable energy.”

“When the SNP Government finally makes a statement, after so much delay, I will be looking for absolute clarity on how it will proceed to a total ban.

“Otherwise, I will continue with my Members’ Bill to ban onshore fracking, to make sure that we protect our planet for this and future generations to come.”

The Scottish Government announced a moratorium on fracking in January 2015, but ministers have still to decide if this should be made permanent.

When the legislative programme for the coming year was announced, ministers said they would set out their view on fracking and seek parliamentary approval “in the coming weeks”.

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: “There’s a growing impatience over the SNP’s inability to announce an outright ban and I hope they make a statement this week because communities across Scotland deserve certainty.”

“Given the risks it poses to public health, the safety of workers and the damage to our reputation as a climate change leader, it’s time for the Scottish Government to rule out fracking for good.”

Grangemouth plant owners Ineos would stand to lose 
the most from any ban after securing a licence to extract shale gas from a 329-square kilometre site in the Midland Valley in 2014.

The company has repeatedly called on the government to end the moratorium on the controversial practice.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have published research reports on the potential impacts of unconventional oil and gas and carried out an extensive public consultation which attracted more than 60,000 responses.

“Ministers are considering the evidence, including the consultation results and will put their recommendation on the way forward to the Scottish Parliament for MSPs to vote on this important issue before the end of this calendar year.”