Scottish fracking announcement: What MSPs said in response

Holyrood gv

After announcing an indefinite moratorium on fracking in Scotland, the Scottish Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, faced questions from MSPs. DrillOrDrop has picked out some of the key points from across the parliament.

“All about the politics and not the science”

Dean Lockhart

Dean Lockhart

Dean Lockhart, Conservative, the first to question the minister, said:

“After years of indecision, the SNP has finally made its choice in relation to fracking, and yet again Scotland’s economy is left behind.”

Mr Lockhart said independent reports had concluded that fracking would bring £4.6 billion to the economy and thousands of highly skilled jobs.

“This much needed economic boost and these jobs will now be created outside of Scotland thanks to the SNP.”

He suggested:

“Banning fracking is all about the politics and not about the science”

Another Conservative, Jamie Greene, asked:

“Is this the new way of doing government where national policy is led by opinion polls, rather than by economic and scientific evidence. Scotland needs a government that does the right thing, not the populist thing”.

Paul Wheelhouse

Paul Wheelhouse

Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said the Scottish Government had taken a responsible view to the development of its approach to unconventional oil and gas. This was, he said, unlike the UK government.

“[It] has ploughed ahead with a gung-ho attitude to the development of unconventional oil and gas activities in England, with the consequent upset to communities in Lancashire and elsewhere, and has not thought at all about the social licence involved in such a new industry in an area of densely populated England, we have taken a responsible view to the development of our approach to unconventional oil and gas”.

Mr Wheelhouse denied it was a political decision and said the Scottish Government took very seriously its responsibilities to communities.

“Proposals don’t go far enough”

Claudia Beamish

Claudia Beamish

Claudia Beamish, Labour’s environment spokesperson who has proposed a bill to ban fracking, welcomed the announcement.

“Labour has long argued that we don’t need another fossil fuel. We need to develop forms of renewable energy with unionised and well—paid jobs.”

She said:

“This announcement is the result of communities’ and Labour’s pressure, and specifically my proposal to change the law to ban fracking.

“Extending the moratorium indefinitely, while welcome, is not as strong as a full legal ban, and could be overturned at any point at the whim of a future minister.

“These proposals do not go far enough. They do not offer the protection that my bill would.”

She called on Mr Wheelhouse to work with her on a full legal ban.

Mr Wheelhouse described the moratorium as “an effective and immediate ban on unconventional oil and gas activities in Scotland”.

“Legally-shaky and open to challenge”

Mark Ruskell

Mark Ruskell

Mark Ruskell, of the Green Party, said the announcement showed the government had listened to communities. But he said:

“We don’t have a ban in front of us. The government has merely extended its current moratorium, a moratorium which is legally-shaky and open to challenge by large companies such as Ineos.”

He called for a permanent ban using Scottish planning policy and environmental regulation.

Liam McArthur, Liberal Democrat, described the announcement as a ban “by the scenic route”. But he said:

“Much more still needs to be done if we are to ensure the necessary mix of renewables and particularly storage technology that our economy and society will require in the coming decades.”

“Peace of mind”

Angus MacDonald

Angus MacDonald

Angus MacDonald, SNP, said:

“The ban will give residents throughout central Scotland peace of mind”

But he asked for an assurance of support for Grangemouth, the INEOS-owned chemical plant which uses feedstock from shale gas.

“Massive slap in the face”

john scott

John Scott

John Scott, Conservative, said:

“The announcement of a ban today is a massive slap in the face to Scottish academia, engineers, geologists, industry experts and many more highly-skilled individuals who have been dealt a heavy blow.”

He said jobs had been put at risk and people would no longer be attracted to work in a new Scottish shale gas industry.

Transcript of the statement and parliamentary questions

Reaction from environmental groups and English campaigners

Reaction from industry






Categories: Politics

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7 replies »

  1. Thanks for your excellent reporting by the Way Ruth, always concise and informative.

    I think i agree with the move to make this into law, an extension of the moratorium is the first necessary step, but it is indeed not enough, i suspect there are ohandgee industry legal eagles are being urgently briefed to attempt to overturn this as we speak. There may be not much time before that particular shale hits the fan, Scotland musnt be off guard when that happens.

    Also i agree with the storage necessity, that is the key to renewable’s, cue Tesla battery farm technology perhaps? And of course up to date 21st century efficient solar and wind farm generation, not the ancient inefficient methods we use here, electromagnetic gearboxes and modern efficient propeller combinations and blades, tidal of course, maybe even geothermal as Scotland is on the edge of a grinding tectonic plate?
    So many options to explore and develop, how exciting?

    Poor old fashioned England still trapped in last centuries technological oligarchy will have to wake up, the old recidivist stuck in the fossil fuel age game has just transformed into a renewable race. we mustn’t be left behind in the dark ages?

    A change of government May be required to get us out of the doldrums?

    What absolutely amazing times?

    • It’s the current UK government that’s old fashioned. It’s a dictatorship rather than a democracy. But then what does one expect with a first past the post voting system which lets the largest minority win. Hence Conservative dogma and the related policies have in reality incredibly little support from the electorate.
      Well done Scotland. I look forward to the greatest ever Hogmanay celebrations on the 31st of December, with record sales of Scottish Whisky, distilled with clean, fresh, untarnished water from the Highlands.

  2. I’ll second that vote of thanks – this is the go to site for news about fracking – up to date, complete, fair and accurate!

  3. I too wish to congratulate Ruth on the reporting.

    However, as you may expect I am not so sure about this being a significant shift in Scotlands dependence on Hydrocarbon cash, jobs and the oil and gas that goes with it as noted in various comments.

    Scotland produces over 90% of the UKs oil and a thick wedge of the gas. Outwith how the income ( or loss ) is cut by the exchequer Hydrocarbons remain a key part of the Scottish economy.

    Aberdeen is the premier oil town in the U.K. Dundee and Montrose are in the mix. Sullom Voe, St Fergus, Grangemouth are onshore facilities that come to mind.

    Hence Scotland will remain wedded to Oil and Gas for some time to come. I am sure it is playing its part in developing renewable energy, but no more than the rest of the UK, which does not have the luxury of a large oil industry, and a gas industry which provides all the energy the country needs.

    I also suspect that it being hailed as an example of the SNP standing up to the OG industry is a bit premature.

    The main Scottish O&G industry are not shale players. The company stood up to would be INEOS, primarily as a Chemical Company at present, although they have expanded into offshore oil and gas.

    If the SNP lobby to stop all offshore O&G development, then one could say they have stood up to the industry. But I doubt that would be politically acceptable at present.

    Who knows what the future may bring?

  4. Yes, seems like the rest of the UK will have to increase their payments to Scotland under the Barnett formula if they do not undertake fracklng in Scotland, so the knock on effect for the rest of the UK will be higher taxes in order to support Scotland

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