Scotland urged to reject shale gas ‘bribes’

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The Scottish Government has been urged to “close the door” on fracking north of the Border.

Environmental campaigners at WWF Scotland made the plea after Chancellor George Osborne unveiled tax breaks for the controversial technique for extracting shale gas.

Mr Osborne aims to create the “most generous” regime for shale gas in the world.

However, Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, claimed such “bribes” were a “recipe for environmental and financial disaster”.

The Church of Scotland also spoke out against Mr Osborne’s plans for a new shale gas allowance – which will more than halve the tax due on a proportion of the income from gas production.

The UK government hopes the move will encourage exploration of energy from non-conventional sources.

Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton, convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, said it was “disappointing” and there were “many alternatives to fracking”.

The government’s new tax regime is based on existing field allowances for the development of technically or commercially challenging oil and gas resources, and will reduce the tax on the income from shale production from 62 per cent to 30 per cent. New planning guidance on shale gas is set to be published as Westminster attempts to drive forward exploration.

Mr Banks said: “The massive tax breaks and bribes being offered by the UK government to prop up polluting shale gas are a recipe for environmental and financial disaster.

“Scottish ministers must reject these moves and use all the powers at their disposal to close the door on shale-gas fracking north of the Border.”