Final weeks of consultation on Scottish government policy against fracking


Scottish Parliament 170531 Friends of the Earth Scotland

Opponents of fracking calling for a ban, 31 May 2017. Photo: Friends of the Earth Scotland

People have three more weeks to give their views on the Scottish government’s policy not to support fracking.

A consultation invites comments on the predicted impacts of the policy on the environment and business. There is also an opportunity to comment on the effects if fracking were allowed to go ahead.

The final policy is expected to be finalised in spring 2019.

The Scottish government introduced a moratorium on fracking for shale oil and gas and coal bed methane in January 2105.

Scottish fracking ban

Scottish energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, announcing government policy on unconventional oil and gas at Holyrood

A four-month initial consultation in 2017 attracted more than 60,000 responses, the vast majority opposing fracking.

In October that year, the Scottish parliament voted in favour of the Scottish government’s preferred position to not support the development of unconventional oil and gas.

To be finalised, the policy requires a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and a business and regulatory impact assessment (BRIA). Both are the subject of the current consultation, which continues until 18 December.

Environmental impacts

The 304-page SEA concluded:

“Allowing unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland, could result in significant negative effects on the environment, even when taking account of existing regulation and consenting processes.”

It said there could be harm to air and water quality, climate factors, public health and safety, biodiversity, the setting of historic sites and the character and quality of landscapes.

The Scottish government’s policy to not support the industry would avoid these environmental impacts and any cumulative effects, the SEA said. It would result in significant positive environmental effects across all of the SEA topic areas.

The SEA also looked at the effects of a single pilot project.  This would have much lower environmental impacts than the development of the industry but there was still potential for significant effects it said, depending on the location of the project site.

Measures to mitigate harm – such as monitoring, best practice techniques and carbon offsetting – would help to reduce the risk and severity of effects. But it was likely that environmental impacts would remain, the SEA said.

The assessment added:

“The Scottish Government considers the development of an onshore unconventional oil and gas industry in Scotland would make achieving its energy and climate change commitments more challenging.

“Whilst acknowledging the important role of gas in the transition to a low carbon energy future, the addition of an onshore unconventional oil and gas industry would not promote our ability to meet our greenhouse gas emissions targets or objectives in relation to protecting and enhancing the environment”.

Impacts on economy, business and regulators

The BRIA concluded:

“The total economic impact of unconventional oil and gas is estimated to be relatively low, and is not comparable to the current offshore industry in Scotland.

“While an unconventional oil and gas sector in Scotland could provide important benefits to Scotland’s petrochemical sector and provide a cost-effective gas supply for local energy networks, and increase security of supply, particularly for high energy use industries, the scale of production in Scotland would be relatively low in comparison to European or international gas production and would be unlikely to have an impact on global gas supply prices, and therefore on consumer energy costs.”

The assessment said the Committee on Climate Change had warned that emissions from production of unconventional gas and oil would need to be offset through cuts in emissions elsewhere in the economy.

It also said communities, particularly those in areas where fracking was likely to take place, had yet to be convinced there was a strong enough case of national economic importance, when balanced against risk and disruption.

The Scottish government’s policy would provide certainty to industry and communities, the assessment said. It could improve investment opportunities in some sectors and could benefit the supply chain if the unconventional oil and gas sector targeted different resources.

On the costs of the policy, the assessment said the total cumulative spending in Scotland of the industry had been estimated at £2.2b up to 2062. The unconventional gas and oil industry had been estimated to add £1.2bn to the Scottish economy or 0.1% to Scottish GDP per year over the lifetime of the industry.

At its peak, the industry would support 1,400 jobs, including indirect posts, the assessment said. Cumulative additional tax would be 1.4bn to 2062. There could also be losses of fees, land rents and charges to some public bodies.

Allowing fracking to go ahead could provide feedstocks for chemicals and manufacturing, reducing costs and avoiding the need to import. But these benefits had not been quantified because of uncertainties, the assessment said. There was unlikely to be any impact on domestic or global energy prices.

A pilot project would increase understanding of the resource and its impacts but it would require funding by the project partners, the assessment said. Typical onshore exploration costs were £0.5m-7m and projects could take two years to plan.

Community opposition

Community councils, the most local tier of elected representatives in Scotland, are raising money to ensure their voice is heard in the consultation.

They are seeking £2,000 to pay Sir Crispin Agnew QC and Mothiur Rahman to make their case. Both lawyers represented Concerned Communities of Falkirk and nine Falkirk Community Councils at the public inquiry in 2014 into Dart Energy’s plans to drill for coalbed methane at Letham Moss, near Airth.

Maria Montinaro, of Concerned Communities of Falkirk, said:

“We feel it is important for Community Councils to not let go of the slack at these final stages where the draft “Strategic Environmental Assessment” (SEA) of the effective ban policy is now out to public consultation.

“Scottish communities still don’t have a legally robust ban on fracking that they can be confident will remain in place for the foreseeable future.”


Consultation introduction

Strategic environmental assessment

Business and regulatory impact assessment

Scottish government position statement on unconventional oil and gas

67 replies »

  1. Living in Scotland I’m witnessing first hand the effects of a weak government. Wee Nikki and her pals can’t make a decision on anything and that’s the worst type of government you can have. Up till lately they’ve simply blamed Westminster for everything, they have no idea how to grow an economy and live on hand outs. All very embarrassing indeed.
    I’ll be amazed if she actually bans fracking as it’s a full and final decision, you can say bye bye to Grangemouth in about 10yrs if she does.

  2. Wee GBK might learn one day that Scotland, as a parliamentary democracy, does not have its decisions made by its leader whether ‘he’ or ‘she’. And they have in fact shown more rigorous due diligence on this subject that England ever did.

  3. Sigh. Welcome to multi-party politics. It’s how many European countries have operated for years … coalitions form on this or that agenda for the things they can agree on. If the things you groan about were anywhere near as brazen as the bribing of the DUP to support May’s minority government you guys might have a point.

    [Comment corrected at poster’s request]

  4. Nobody is groaning about anything PhilipP. Just pointing out the realties that seem to be as rare as hen’s teeth amongst the antis.

    Very cosy to be able to ignore realities, but the majority do not. Chatter away as much as your like amongst yourselves and leave it up to others to bring the discussion back to the real world. Cosy, but very limited.

    • Well I’ve just pointed to the reality Martin. Meanwhile you slide back into your mumbling about ‘antis’ whatever they are. Apparently ‘we’ who do not know each other and who do our own research belong to some sort of tribe according to your self comforting ideology. I shan’t be bothering with your arguments unless you have a valid point to make.

  5. “Who do our own research????”

    Please remind us which Barclays own Third Energy, PhilipP? Yes, it was a mistake easy to make, but the chat was about corporate governance, so perhaps best to check what the corporate structure was first.

    ” Red diesel is red to prevent it being confused with vegetable oil.” Guess who-someone who claims an engineering background.

    “Piling is not used in new build housing.” She who should be nameless.

    “There is plenty of cheap oil and gas sloshing around the markets.” You will recognise that classic.

    (No, I don’t keep a list. But, I have a good memory.)

    I could go on, but I think I have made my point. Maybe the tribe is one that doesn’t do research properly and thinks no one will notice.

    I can quite understand why you would rather not be bothered by arguments when they tend to actually contain some accurate research. Have a chat with Jack. He puts in the graft. Maybe into an unconnected area, but he gives it a go.

    • Thinking of me , THANKS MARTIN.

      Now ladies and gentlemen, as MARTIN spends his life on this forum as the self appointed , Tree Of Knowledge.

      As he is so much in love with Fracking , I wonder if he will be shocked to the core with this ” accurate research ” from BREAST CANCER ACTION .

      For the third time MARTIN and I’m sure there are a lot of ladies on this forum who will also be very interested . What exactly are your thoughts on this ??????



      Please also supply supporting evidence with anything you say ( NOT JUST AN OPINION ) , thanks .

      • Jack – you seem to be asking Martin to provide evidence yet all you have provided is a link to a website that has zero credibility. Maybe you should get the ball rolling by providing some peer reviewed papers that back up your I’ll-informed ideas

        • JUDITH

          WELL, WELL what do we have here ladies and gentleman, another self appointed Tree Of Knowledge.

          I’ve noticed JUDITH you only ever provide an OPINION, never any links with supporting evidence .

          Strange , just like MARTIN.

          Please supply supporting evidence to back up your above OPINION, regarding BREAST CANCER ACTION having zero credibility .

          I have many , MANY more pieces of evidence to put forward … I hope for all the forum members you and MARTIN will respond to each and every article.

      • Awww desperate martin? Not a good look, sneaking back here to make some derogatory remark hoping we wont find you?

        Hiding back here sniping from behind the lines with your little list rather than up front?

        We all know you keep a little list martin? Oh yes we know you do!

        Guess who told you that you are talking nonsense martin, but you will hold on to these excitable little false comfort blankets to preserve the illusion of adequacy wont you?

        Still poisoning badgers with mustard gas and saying you dont read anything i write? Then how do you know what i say or not? Ooops!

        Sad really, as usual you have nothing relevant to say but snipe from miles away. Never mind, perhaps you can spread more discredited illusions whispered to you by imaginary friends?

  6. Ahh. You have caught me out there Jack, asking for evidence to counter opinion!

    But if you want some accurate research, there are a high proportion of obese individuals within a close proximity to US fracking sites. But of course, there are a high proportion of obese individuals within close proximity to most points in USA! Maybe more near fracking sites due to disposable income, just the same reason there is more sexual activity (look out PNR!) You can Giggle the latter one Jack, the first one is not worth it-just take a visit to USA. The latter one could link to breast cancer-but let’s not go there.

    No, not in love with fracking. I just want to see what “she” might offer in UK. Then I may fall in love with “her”, or, I may dump “her”. I don’t need anyone dishing the dirt on “her” until I get to know “her” myself and make my own opinion. Seismic reaction was not a problem.

    Not Tree of Knowledge, but aka Eddy Stone-clearing a pathway through the fog for others!

    Nice to see you back Jack. A relief from your glass half empty “colleagues.”

  7. Jack-some “research” for you in today’s media, indicating burned bread can cause cancer. (Old “news” dressed up for a new audience.)

    Have to cancel my trip to the recycling centre as entrance will be blocked by thousands of discarded toasters.

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