LABOUR is to push for part of the Smith Commission to be devolved early by asking MPs to vote through handing over controls on fracking.
An amendment tabled by Labour on the government’s Infrastructure Bill would allow control of shale gas in Scotland to be given to the Scottish Parliament before the next election.
The proposal was agreed by all the parties in the recent Smith Commission on more powers for Scotland and could be accepted as part of the bill which is on course to being passed before end of the parliamentary session.
The amendment would allow planning and environmental permitting to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, meaning that shale gas extraction can only happen in Scotland with the approval of the Scottish Parliament.
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Tom Greatrex, Scottish Labour’s shadow energy minister, said: “It has always been the case that shale gas extraction can only happen in Scotland with the approval of the SNP in Holyrood. The Scottish government’s longstanding control of the planning and permitting regimes gives them a veto over any development in Scotland – but the SNP voted against a shale gas moratorium in Holyrood earlier this year.
“It makes sense for mineral access rights, in effect a secondary aspect of the planning regime, to be devolved as well and the Smith Commission adopted Labour’s recommendation on this point. This will bring some coherence and clarity to a confusing situation – the public must have a clear sense of where responsibility for these decisions in Scotland lie.
“Rather than maintaining the false pretence that they are powerless to prevent fracking in Scotland, this amendment will give help clarify that the Scottish government the responsibility for all aspects of planning.”
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