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ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have renewed calls for the Scottish government to ban fracking in law after a policy position of “no support” was announced in Holyrood today.
The announcement by Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse follows years of heated debate after a 2017 “effective ban” was deemed a “gloss” by the government’s own lawyers and found in court to be legally meaningless.
Announcing the new position, Mr Wheelhouse said that the decision followed consideration of factors including the impact on the natural environment and health and wellbeing of communities, as well as there being overwhelming support for a ban among the Scottish public.
He said: “After a comprehensive evidence-gathering exercise, we have concluded that the development of onshore unconventional oil and gas is incompatible with our policies on climate change, energy transition and the decarbonisation of our economy.”
But Friends of the Earth Scotland, which as led campaigning on this issue for seven years, characterised the announcement as “frustrating.”
Head of campaigns Mary Church said: “It is of course very welcome that ministers have announced they are keeping the indefinite moratorium on fracking in place, but frustrating that today’s decision falls short of the full legal ban that would put the issue to bed once and for all.”
Labour’s environment and climate change spokeswoman Claudia Beamish sought assurances that the position would be protected under future governments, while Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur enquired about the trigger for bringing forward such a Bill.
In response, Mr Wheelhouse said the government did not consider that new legislation was needed, claiming that “a strong policy position” is “sufficient.”
But he also said tthe option remained available if further evidence proved it to be necessary.
Ms Beamish said: “This ‘no fracking in Scotland’ statement will reinforce the signal sent by our new Climate Change Act that sustainable, unionised jobs through just transition, as part of a green jobs revolution, is what we all must work for.”
The Scottish Greens’ Mark Ruskell joined her in welcoming the position, stating that “it does enact the decision of this Parliament from 2017 at long last, and draws to a conclusion a campaign that we’ve been running with communities at the Green Party since 2012.”
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