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.”