Scottish Labour’s Claudia Beamish launches bid to ban fracking


Claudia Beamish launching her consultation outside the Scottish Parliament

Labour MSP Claudia Beamish has launched a public consultation as part of her attempt to ban fracking in Scotland.

Her announcement this morning that she would introduce a private member’s bill coincided with the ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Ms Beamish, Labour environment spokesperson, said the science on climate was now irrefutable. Her proposed bill, she said, would seek to ban onshore unconventional oil and gas extraction, including shale gas fracking and coal bed methane.

Ms Beamish said:

“Scotland relying on fracking for our energy needs will lock us into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy.”

Her consultation runs until 17 February 2017 and seek views on issues such as the safety and environmental risks of fracking, investment in renewables and Scotland’s transition to a low carbon economy.

Ms Beamish said:

“Scotland can send a message to the world by banning fracking. That’s why I am announcing my proposal on the day that the global Paris Climate Change Agreement comes into force. This is about the kind of Scotland we want to leave our grandchildren.

“The science is clear, we don’t need another fossil fuel and we need to transition to clean energy.

“The other parties in Holyrood should back my bill. SNP MSPs face a choice: they can work with Labour and ban fracking or they can work with the Tories to allow drilling under family homes in central Scotland.”

The SNP-led Scottish Government imposed a moratorium on fracking last year and is expected to publish its research on unconventional oil and gas operations soon, possibly next week.

The Scottish Parliament voted in June to support a ban on fracking, despite abstentions by SNP members.

The GMB union, which is affiliated to Labour, has supported fracking. Its Scottish Secretary, Gary Smith, said:

“Scotland needs a balanced energy supply to avoid the future prospect of power cuts, rising bills and frozen homes, but Labour is abandoning pragmatic politics in favour of the politics of protest – it’s no wonder their polls continue to point south.

“This does nothing for the credibility of Scottish Labour, but more importantly it does nothing to protect the interests of people across Scotland.”

Environmental charities in Scotland have welcomed the announcement. Mary Church, head of campaigners of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“This is a very important step in the fight against fracking. The grounds for banning unconventional oil and gas are absolutely crystal clear in the context of the climate crisis we are facing and the threat that fracking presents to public health.

“While the current moratorium has halted the immediate threat of fracking, ultimately a ban is necessary.

“It’s useful that Labour has kicked off a process that starts the thinking on how we actually ban fracking. We urge MSPs and parties to get behind this Bill and work together to protect the environment and end uncertainty for communities.”

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said:

“It’s great to see Scottish Labour acting on its commitment to an outright ban on fracking by bringing forward this bill.

“There is overwhelming public opinion in favour of cleaner forms of energy and a sufficient body of evidence on why unconventional oil and gas are neither good for people or the planet.

“The climate science is clear, the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground.  Scotland should instead be playing to its natural advantages in clean, green renewable energy and capitalising on the jobs, climate benefits and health improvements a zero carbon future can deliver.”

Consultation paper on Proposed Prohibition of Fracking etc (Scotland) Bill

42 replies »

  1. This kind of publicity is very good for the pro-fracking movement. Proposing extreme measures, such as a ban on fracking, divides the party. It isolates the zealotry and it pulls many who are on the fence back into the mainstream. The mainstream realize that fracking is not the horror show that the anti-frack mafia make it out to be. They understand the lies and deception that the anti’s are known for. They hear INEOS talking about protecting industry and job creation – and they feel that the industry can be good for the country with proper safeguards. Great news for the frackers.

    • You say fracking can be good with the proper safeguards, but right now there are no proper safeguards. Furthermore, even petitions that only ask for for proper safeguards are met with accusations of zealotry and fanaticism by pro-frackers.

      • Actually, Susan, fracking has been VERY good in America, where safeguards are not as rigorous as they will be in the UK.

        For the record, I would not make any accusations against those who wish to have safeguards put on the industry. It is a good idea in any industry. An open discussion that is informed by science and empirical data from around 3 million wells world wide and over 40 years of data, will greatly aid the discussion!

        • Of course safeguards are great, it’s just that here in the US, if you mention ANYTHING having to do with the environment you’re labeled a tree hugger, a libtard, or a fanatic, so making any headway on safeguards in the US is a lost cause. Fracking in the US is causing all sorts of horrible environmental damage and health issues. I hope you have better luck in the UK.

        • Read the PR spiel (eg Peeny’s mythical safe, clean world fracking) then dig out the facts. They’re pretty ugly.

  2. “Scotland relying on fracking for our energy needs will lock us into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy.” – it’s just another political stunt. I notice she doesn’t mention North Sea gas which is just as much a fossil fuel, but No – to do so would lose votes from the industry so it’s safer to attack onshore exploration, better of course to send people out onto the North Sea risking more helicopter crashes and Piper Alpha type disasters. Absolutely disgusting and a disgrace to a party which has sadly lost all credibility as being the representative of ordinary working people.

    • So according to you Mark, fracking onshore = no helicopter crashes = safe?
      Will we name the fracking rigs so we can blog about the ‘Little Plumpton Alpha’ disaster in time to come?
      What the hell are ‘ordinary working people’?

  3. From a representative of the WWF, “Scotland should instead be playing to its natural advantages in clean, green renewable energy and capitalising on the jobs, climate benefits and health improvements a zero carbon future can deliver.” – I guess they mean the abundance of Scottish sunshine! What does the comment mean in practical terms…..more wind and solar farms covering the countryside and new industrial development in the Highlands to build hydro stations. Maybe more off-shore windfarms. What are the other “natural advantages”. Surely better to exert at least some effort on shale development in areas where there has been previous industrial development and where most of the activity occurs at least 3000 ft down away from water sources and any significant effect on wildlife. Is the representative of WWF really thinking logically about the future of wildlife in Scotland.

    Oh yes Scotland could create lots of jobs converting all the homes with gas central heating into electrically heated homes but….wait a minute…where is the electricity going to come from…oh dear.

    Just to repeat of course that any currently available renewable apart from biofuel Is weather dependent and will require a fossil fuel or nuclear back-up. A zero carbon future is just not possible over the next 40 years or so. Get over it, and start thinking about the mix of fuel sources which best balance the three needs of climate friendliness, affordability, and security of supply.

    If the Polar circulation loses power this winter (as suggested as a significant possibility by the BBC weather forecasters this week) and sweeps Arctic air down over Scotland and their Grid can’t cope they’ll be plenty of wildlife in Scotland, much of it marching down to Holyrood to ask why the first duty of government wasn’t to keep the lights on.

    • If you want energy efficiency in heating, electric based heating is less efficient than gas because lot of energy will be lost during conversion of heat into electricity and more lost during transmission. Electric heater also take alot longer to heat up when you need them.

      • I was listening to just that point on the radio recently. In the programme it was discussing with a Chinese developer, who has a specialist development programme for solar energy. A representative from their facility said the same thing, hence why they have developed direct solar heating. I will look into this more. They were very excited about their results particularly for domestic heating and cooking…..

        • In one African cuntry I worked in we financed a local to design and build solar ovens / cookers. This was 15 years ago. He had returned to his country from UK where he had been a nuclear physics scientist at Oxbridge (I think). These were very low cost, powered directly by sunlight and were succesful, and provided a viable alternative to wood and LPG (which most couldn’t afford anyway).

    • ‘A zero carbon future is just not possible over the next 40 years or so’

      I have looked into this for you. It seems that the same wind and daylight that will be available in 40 years is available today.

      Few facts about the permanent demand destruction of fossil fuels by renewable s.

      Balancing Mechanism (BM) reports as recorded by Gridwatch provide insight to exactly how the UK grid is coping with and responding to the ever growing amount of intermittent wind energy. The key observations are detailed below, the evidence is below the fold.

      There is no evidence that integrating wind has impaired the efficiency of combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) or coal fired generation.
      The rate of load change to accommodate wind is no greater than the diurnal load cycle to accommodate demand.
      Wind is variable and is just as likely to be blowing at night when demand is low as during the day when demand is high (Figure 1).
      CCGT (gas) bears the brunt of load balancing in the UK for both diurnal demand and wind variability.

      A consequence of this is that CCGT is losing market share to wind whilst providing an ever larger and more valuable load balancing service.

      Click to access 467ac5b8919.pdf

      The race to sell fossil fuels is on. (Hence the low global prices)

    • I like the ‘keeping the lights on phrase’. That’s the easiest to achieve with renewables. Lighting is very low energy compared to heating and cooking.

      • Have a look at the following website Philip and you will see how easy it is to generate electricity from the renewables installed capacity we already have:


        If you look at it now (13:07hrs) you will see that wind is doing the best I have seen it doing on Gridwatch – over 6GW from 14GW installed capacity. A good day for wind today.

        You can also look at France:


        Nearly 80% nuclear, different mix to UK. They are currently exporting to UK, Germany, Belgium, Spain and importing almost the same amount from Italy.

  4. Scotland is a bit like OPEC. It relies on the fossil fuel revenue from North Sea to balance its budget. Without good oil price North Sea wont be able to economically generate enough revenue. Furthermore wind energy subsidies are important to Scotland bottom line. So it would need to keep Britain on its leash and use all reasons to argue against any independent supplies of energy from shale. So there is economic as well as political interests from Scotland against shale.

    • Just remember, Scotland population is only 10th of the UK. They have agriculture, clean energy production, tourism and a myriad of other income generators to feed, warm and cloth their people. Don’t believe what you read in some papers.Scotland is already able to be independent; it just wants to maintain it’s trade deals and legacy contracts; at the moment a significant part of the population have non Scottish roots, possibly an influence on the close call at the referendum. It has been suggested that this balance will tip to independence when the UK comes out of Europe, but we will have to wait and see.

  5. Scotland should ban “fracking”. They have a significantly higher proportion of wind turbines with a significantly lower proportion of the population. Very smart, the English pay the majority of the subsidies to Scottish wind farm owners, and presumably the Scottish government gains in increased corporation tax (assumind wind is not exempt). They have more hydro due to their geography. They aspire to go to 100% renewables (and did for a moment in time). Let them reach this target, let them have independence, and then sell them electricty when its not windy enough to be self sustainable (most of the time). Electricity generated by our CCGT and nuclear.

    • And when they are overproducing they can sell surplus renewable energy to England. This will help cut back on the £6 billion a year we are paying to subsidise the UK fossil fuel industry. Could work out well.

      • Only if it is cheaper on the open market, I have no problem with this. I thought you wanted to reduce taxes for offshore hydrocarbons (increase subsidies)?

    • No Paul, the ‘subsidies’ come from ALL of the UK, not ‘majority’ England. You cannot make that assumption that as England has a bigger population = more revenue. There are too many complex tax receipts, payouts and evasions in operation to specify location and proportion.

      Besides, if Scotland became independent, I’m sure they would not buy energy from the remainder of the UK, particularly if it was from shale as would be too expensive. I think they are more likely to buy in from Norway who have the competitive edge. A land sea connection to Norway would mean they could, if needed, top up their Scottish clean with Norwegian green. A win win situation for them and the planet.

      • Sorry Sherwulfe, I think I am are correct. It is fairly simple, at least who pays the final bill is. The RO scheme and FIT scheme and several other green tariffs are added to our energy bills, mostly onto electricity. This is the portion per average bill which is forecast to be nearing £200 / bill by 2020. So as England has significantly more consumers, and each consumer pays a roughly equal amount, people living in England pay the majority of the green subsidies and taxes. As Scotland has significantly more wind and hydro, as a country, they receive more ROs / FITs etc.

        See the comments on this from EON:


        As for Scotland investing in an interconnector to Norway, this is a good idea. Something the UK is already doing for 2019, not sure where it will come onshore in the UK? But they are unlikely to be able to afford it on their own unless the oil price rises significantly. And how does a 100% renewable Scotland save the planet? Insignificant on a global scale.

    • What a very sad outlook. I hope the Union does not break up and I for one hope we move away from fossil fuels as soon as possible – for the sake of everyone. And in the meantime if we are to tackle climate change fracking for shale is not the answer.

      • Correct , nobody is factoring in the real cost of shale gas – counting it’s high carbon budget (just now being recognised) and the blight of new infrastructure which starts becoming redundant almost straight away (and leaky).
        I think Peeny wants to pull his investments out of the US before they turn into liabilities then catch the bonanza here – which probably won’t happen.

  6. Same with cooking. Gas burner is the cheapest most energy efficient than electric hot plate. That’s why restaurant mostly use gas burner.
    Regarding UK shale investment, it’s not gonna be a bonanza for investors because the gas field is small and won’t lead to export. Most produced gas will be for domestic consumption. The boom in US shale is because they have large market and allow to export these. But I could be wrong because company may have drilling data that say otherwise.

    • Easier in the US too because they have vast tracts of landscape per head of population. England would fit 3 times into California and 5 times into Texas…. once started fracking has to keep marching across the landscape (in 2x1mile blocks approx).

      INEOS/Cuadrilla may get enough out of a 6km square block with 100 wells to keep Jim Ratcliffe’s plastics factory (Grangemouth) going for a few more years… but things could get ugly – for further development – if that turns local relations against them.

      • Mind you. UK shale is much thicker and they may be able to much more gas from the same surface area. And they dont need transmission pipeline to get to the market and this maybe an advantage.

        • How would the gas be transported then? Lots more truck?… condensed the LNG? … a lot more heavy plant either way.

          • I mean the uk unlike the us doesn’t need to build new gas pipeline thousands of km from nowhere costing billion to get to the gas to the market. In the UK gas pipeline is already close by.

  7. Scotland has absolutely no idea how to build on its GDP. It is dying a slow death due to the constant shift towards the clueless left. It has been so used to getting a giro cheque it has forgotten it actually needs to go to work.
    I am Scottish and a capitalist and I cringe everytime people like this appear on the screen it makes me embarrassed.
    The left simply have no ideas of their own and moan about everything and anything and cause more harm than good.
    And the only reason Sturgeon is so pro remaining in the EU is due to the fact she can borrow billions more compared to the limits Westminster imposes. She has zero business sense and will create a Greece scenario if she got her way.
    Luckily there are enough people like me in Scotland that will prevent Scotland from becoming independent.

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