Friends of the Earth Scotland have accused the Scottish Government of dilly dallying over banning fracking .
Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands in the Scottish Government, stated in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 26th of March:
“On 3 October 2017, the Scottish Government set out a preferred position that it does not support onshore unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland. The preferred policy position is subject to a statutory Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and other assessments before any policy can be adopted.
“The consultation responses received have led the Scottish Government to form the view that it would be helpful to provide some further clarification on a number of points raised in response to the consultation documents, specifically regarding the preferred policy position and its objectives. We are also taking the opportunity to update our position on the reasonable alternatives to the preferred policy position which were considered as part of the SEA process.
“The Scottish Government is publishing an addendum to the SEA Environmental Report, the preferred policy position statement and the partial BRIA, and wishes to invite further comments on the points covered. Responses to the addendum will be considered in detail prior to a final policy position being reached.
“It is anticipated that the addendum and related consultation documents will be published for consultation following the Easter Parliamentary recess. In line with the initial consultation in late 2018, views will be invited over a period of eight weeks, and the responses analysed prior to publication.
“Our final policy on unconventional oil and gas will be confirmed and adopted as soon as possible after this process is complete.”
The announcement comes days after Friends of the Earth Scotland published a legal opinion from one of Scotland’s leading lawyers, Aidan O’Neill QC. The opinion says the Scottish Parliament can pass a law to ban fracking and that doing so would be less likely to result in successful legal challenges from companies with an interest in the industry, than the present policy approach.
Mary Church Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns said:
“Communities on the frontline of this dirty industry who have been waiting for over four years for the Scottish Government to bring its long drawn out process on unconventional oil and gas to an end, now face even further delay. Holyrood has the power to ban fracking – it’s time for the Scottish Government to stop dilly-dallying, have the courage of its convictions and legislate to stop the industry for good.
“The Scottish Government and Parliament have a very clear mandate from the people of Scotland to ban fracking. It was one of the top 5 issues going into the 2016 election, with the SNP elected on a promise to deal with industry, the Scottish Parliament has already voted to ban it and over 60,000 responded to a consultation in 2017 rejecting fracking. A series of subsequent powerful commitments from Nicola Sturgeon and her Ministers have still not resulted in robust, long-term protection against this industry.
“We commissioned a legal opinion from one of Scotland’s leading lawyers which makes it equally clear that Holyrood can and should ban fracking, and that legislating would be a far more robust way to stop the industry and defeat any further legal challenges from the likes of INEOS. We urge Ministers to work together with the other anti-fracking parties to pass a law banning fracking and finally put this issue to bed once and for all.”
The Ban that wasn’t a Ban – celebrations in 2017
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