Borders MSP and campaigners welcome Scottish fracking ban

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse has announced a ban on fracking.
Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse has announced a ban on fracking.

Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement of a nationwide ban on fracking.

The Borders was one of the local authority areas identified as potentially having significant shale oil and gas reserves or coal bed methane, so it could have been in line to be eyed up by developers had energy minister Paul Wheelhouse, a South Scotland list MSP for the Scottish National Party, not announced a ban this week.

Borders MSP Christine Grahame.

Borders MSP Christine Grahame.

The government previously announced a moratorium while it ran a public consultation and examined evidence relating to health and public safety concerns.

The consultation was the second largest ever run by the Holyrood government, receiving 60,535 valid responses, of which 99% were opposed to fracking.

Ms Grahame said: “People in the Borders and across Scotland had deep concerns about the development of fracking.

“The Scottish Government has now undertaken one of the most far reaching investigations into unconventional oil and gas of any government in the world.

“The judgement is now clear – we could not pursue fracking in confidence that it would not undermine public health or our climate change targets.”

“And, importantly, the public consent in the communities that would be affected simply isn’t there.

“I’m delighted that the Scottish Government is putting the interests of communities first and ensuring our environment is protected.”

Environmental groups have also welcomed the decision.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s head of campaigns, Mary Church, said: “This is a victory for the environment and for local communities fighting fracking.

“The Scottish Government’s decision to ban fracking will be warmly welcomed across the country and around the world.

“This is a huge win for the anti-fracking movement, particularly for those on the front line of this dirty industry here in Scotland, who have been working for a ban these last six years.

“Having put a moratorium in place more than two years ago, evaluated the evidence and consulted the people of Scotland, the Scottish Government has reached the right and sensible conclusion that the fracking industry must be banned to avoid potentially devastating impacts to people’s health, the climate and our natural environment.

“Over 60,000 people responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on fracking, the second largest number to engage in a consultation in the history of the devolved Parliament, with 99% calling for a ban. This shows the real strength of feeling against this dirty industry in Scotland.”

Elisabeth Whitebread, an energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “The Scottish Government ban on fracking is a huge win for thousands of people who have campaigned against fracking for six years.

“Unlike Westminster, Holyrood is listening to public opinion.

“We already have more gas than we can afford to burn, and as well as damaging the climate, fracking will cause local noise, air and light pollution.”

Sam Gardner, acting director of World Wildlife Fund Scotland, added: “It’s excellent news that the Scottish Government has listened to the thousands of people, campaigners, and politicians across the country who have been calling for a permanent ban to fracking.

“The climate science is clear. The vast majority of fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground. It’s fantastic Scottish ministers agree that we need to start placing them off limits.”

Announcing the ban, Mr Wheelhouse said: “The Scottish Government will not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland.

“Having taken account of the interests of the environment, our economy, public health and the overwhelming majority of public opinion, the decision I am announcing today means fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland.

“We have undertaken one of the most far-reaching examinations of unconventional oil and gas ever carried out by any government anywhere.

“We have not taken the process or the decision lightly. At every stage we have created opportunities for discourse and debate.

“The views expressed through our consultation demonstrated that communities across Scotland, particularly in densely populated areas where developments could potentially take place, are not convinced there is a strong national economic argument when balanced against the risk and disruption they anticipate in areas such as transport, pollution and, crucially, their health and wellbeing.

“It is clear that people across Scotland remain firmly opposed to fracking – this government has listened and taken decisive action.

“Scotland’s chemicals industry has conveyed strong views on the potential impact of shale on the sector. I want to be clear that regardless of our position on unconventional oil and gas, our support for Scotland’s industrial base and manufacturing is unwavering.

“Manufacturing and the chemicals industry continue to play a crucial role in the Scottish economy.

“The Scottish Government understands that a supportive fiscal regime, affordable energy, access to the right skills and good infrastructure are all essential to future success. That is why this government will continue to support industry in a range of different ways in the months and years to come.”