A ministerial statement is due later this week on Scotland’s policy on unconventional oil and gas.
The business bulletin on the Scottish parliament lists a statement for 2pm on Thursday 3 October.
A spokesperson for the Scottish government said there would be no advance details of the content of the statement or who was making it.
A moratorium on fracking in Scotland was first introduced in January 2015.
It was continued by the energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, exactly two years ago on Thursday. This followed a public consultation involving 60,535 responses, of which 99% were against fracking.
In 2018, the Scottish government successfully defended what it called “an effective ban” against a legal challenge at the Court of Session by Ineos and Reach Coal Seam.
The judge, Lord Pentland, said the government’s preferred position was not a legally-enforceable prohibition and so Ineos’s case was unfounded.
A final decision on the policy had been promised by the end of March 2019. But before then, Mr Wheelhouse announced another delay for the Scottish government to update its position based on the findings of a second consultation.
Environmental campaigners called this afternoon for the Scottish Government to implement a legal ban on fracking, to “put the issue to rest once and for all”.
“Ban fracking once and for all”
Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland (right), said:
“Ministers must live up their rhetoric and fulfil the promises of two years ago by committing to a full legal ban on fracking that will put this issue to bed once and for all.
“The effective ban announced two years ago has been exposed in court as having no legal force and was described by the Scottish Government’s own legal team as merely ‘the language of a press release’.
Earlier this year, an expert legal opinion, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Scotland, found it was well within the Scottish government’s power to ban fracking. But the opinion argued that legislation by the Scottish parliament would be a more effective way to stop the industry and defeat any further legal challenges.
Ms Church said:
“We are in the middle of a climate crisis, and now is the time for tough decisions to lay the framework for the system change we need to make happen over the next decade if we are to avoid outright catastrophe. A full legal ban on fracking will be much harder for a future minority government to overturn and will send a strong signal to the fossil fuel industry that its days are numbered.
The Scottish government announced a climate emergency in April 2019. Ms Church said the government “now needs to start acting like it means it”.
“That includes taking a much tougher stance with big, polluting corporations, ending its support for new oil and gas and using the powers it has to pass strong laws in the Scottish Parliament to drive the transformative change we need.”