Opponents of fracking called today on the Scottish government to ban fracking “once and for all”.
In a protest outside the SNP conference in Edinburgh, they said the current moratorium against fracking in Scotland could be reversed easily by a new government.
In a separate development, 32 SNP MPs have called for the MP’s pension fund to stop investing in fossil fuels for climate change reasons.
Last month, Scottish ministers announced an extra consultation and further delay in making a final decision on fracking.
A legal opinion from one of Scotland top lawyers confirmed the Scottish parliament had the power to ban fracking in law. It said a legal challenge against a ban was less likely to succeed than one against the moratorium.
The Scottish government first announced a moratorium on fracking and other unconventional process in January 2015.
Donald Campbell, chair of the Broad Alliance Against Unconventional Gas, said:
“The Broad Alliance are, once again, present at the SNP Conference to remind our Government that we are committed to standing against fracking until we have a full ban in law. We are here to ask SNP members to support us by raising our concerns at Conference that the present approach to stopping fracking is vulnerable to being overturned by a future government with the stroke of a pen.”
Iain Black, of SNP Members Against Unconventional Gas (SMAUG), said:
“We warmly welcome the fact the Scottish Government has stopped fracking in Scotland for over four years, and understand it’s not something the SNP wants to happen now, or ever.
“However, given recent developments, including the legal opinion, we think the current approach is not strong enough, and want the Government to explore using new licensing powers to pass a robust legal ban.”
Penny Cole, Frackwatch Glasgow, said:
“By choosing to continue the moratorium, rather than pass a law against fracking, the Scottish Government is prolonging the agony for people living in license areas. They claim a law might be open to legal challenge, but Ireland has done it – why can’t we? Frackwatch calls on people to contact their MSP and remind them of Nicola Sturgeon’s words ‘fracking is being banned – end of story’. We call on the Government get a move on and act to ban fracking once and for all.”
Callum McLeod, Our Forth Against Unconventional Gas, said:
“Our Forth would be more than disappointed with the Scottish Government if they did not go on to fulfil the obligations, reassurances, and promises which we understood they’d given. We are also sure the more 60, 000 plus other people, who signed the petition asking for a ban on unconventional gas extraction in Scotland alongside us, would question the potential hollowness of all future statements and promises they go on to make.
“Like governments, policies can quickly be changed. We can’t afford to take backward steps at this critical point in time and really need the vision, reassurance, collective trust, and an affirmation of good leadership which a fully legal ban would give”.
Mary Church, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:
“Communities on the frontline of this dirty industry 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. It is high time for Ministers to live up to their rhetoric and ban fracking for good.
“We have a clear legal opinion confirming it is both possible and more watertight to legislate to prohibit fracking, and Holyrood has a clear mandate from the people of Scotland to do so.
“If the present Scottish Government cares an ounce about its legacy, we urge it to work together with anti-fracking parties to pass a law banning fracking and finally put this issue to bed once and for all.”
Perhaps this is a clue to the Scottish governments inability to press for a complete ban on fracking:
“Bus companies refuse money to battle air pollution
Millions of pounds of public funding aimed at improving air pollution goes unspent as bus companies demand more money.”
“A fund set up by the Scottish Government to improve older buses and reduce air pollution was snubbed by many bus operators, leaving millions unspent. The fund of £7.89million, closed on 8th March, having only given out £1million. The unspent £6.89million could have been used to clean up the bus fleet and protecting our health. Meanwhile, Scotland’s cities have illegal, toxic level of air pollution. Something stinks.
The money was made available by the Scottish Government to pay for retrofitting of buses, fitting new exhaust systems to filter out the pollution. In this way, older buses can be brought up to modern standards. On the two pollutants of most concern, upgrades to the oldest buses could reduce pollution by up to 90% for Nitrogen Dioxide, and half for fine particles. The exhaust upgrade costs could have converted around 500 buses. Instead, only 84 buses will be improved. Lothian Buses received funding to clean up 26 of their buses, while Xplore in Dundee will be improving 10 buses. This is barely scratching the surface.
2,500 early deaths are caused by air pollution in Scotland every year. The majority of buses in Scotland do not meet the latest standard, so we need big changes to our fleets. With measures such as Low Emission Zones being introduced in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, bus companies need to upgrade. The fund was particularly targeted at Glasgow where the Low Emission Zone started operating at the beginning of this year.”
Clearly this is the same inertia and lack of any real action other than grand words that we see in the UK and in government, too little, too late and no incentive for fundamental change to climb out of the same old self interested blinkered attitude towards any real movement.
The money available from the Scottish gov is between 40-60% of the cost of retrofitting system ( £15 – 20,000 per bus ).
The money available in England is 100%, and Germany 95%. The SNP say that they cannot provide more due to EU rules, which stinks.
Hence the bus companies, who operate across the UK are holding back for the same cash in Scotland.
Clearly the same lack of inertia and lack of real action other than grand words from the SNP, who ( according to relatives in Scotland ) knew full well that by limiting the funding, the cash would not be spent ( an opinion ). Tho this time they could not lay the blame on Brexit.
Good that the rest of the UK is cracking on with the scheme, although a reason as to why Scotland and England/ Wales interpreter the rules would be interesting, as a change of heart by the SNP would solve the problem ( as would new busses ).