40,000-strong anti-fracking campaign hopes to win full ban for Scotland

Fracking consultation ends with rally and cross-party of MSPs backing a full ban

ANTI-FRACKING CAMPAIGNERS hope that the “landmark” consultation on unconventional oil and gas drilling will have succeeded in persuading the Scottish Government to move towards a permanent ban.

Welcoming the 40,000 respondents to the Scottish Government consultation, politicians, community groups, and environmental activists came together outside the Scottish Parliament to deliver tens of thousands of names in favour of a full ban - beyond the current moratorium that’s in place. 

A three-year long information and campaigning conflict has seen communities with environmental and health concerns take on corporate fossil fuel companies keen to see an extension of the industry into more extreme forms of energy. 

However, environmental activists are hopeful that they will complete a triple victory with the Scottish Government - following previous decisions to block nuclear power development and, more recently in October 2016, underground coal gasification projects using devolved planning powers. 

Read more - Scottish Government announces ban on Underground Coal Gasification

Donald Campbell, Chair of the Broad Alliance, which helped organise the rally and consultation hand-in, said: “The symbolic handover by the Broad Alliance of their submission to the Consultation on Unconventional Oil and Gas is the culmination of years of dogged determination and diligent research into this method of fossil fuel extraction. The submission states unequivocally that communities across the length and breadth of the country completely reject any form of Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction. We call on the Minister to listen to the people of Scotland and ban it completely.”

Mary Church, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland added: “This enormous public response clearly demonstrates Scotland's overwhelming rejection of fracking. Combined with powerful evidence of multiple health and environmental risks, and the clear conflict with our climate change plans, this reaction to the prospect of fracking in Scotland must surely convince the minister that a full ban in law is the only reasonable way forward.”

The Scottish Parliament narrowly backed a fracking ban in June 2016 - by 32 to 29 votes - when the SNP abstained, arguing that it would continue to seek further research and opinion before making a final decision. However, the vote did not have an impact on legislation. SNP Members Against Unconvention Gas (Smaug) has consistently pushed within the SNP for a full fracking ban. 

A report by campaign and research group Common Weal, focused on the economic rather than environmental impact of fracking, raised concerns that any fracking financial benefit is likely to be short-term and benefit corporations above local communities.

Craig Dalzell, head of research for Common Weal said: “The environmental and economic case against unconventional gas extraction is at least as strong as the case against underground coal gasification which the Scottish Government has accepted leading to the latter's ban. 

“With news breaking that Ireland has also accepted this case and has banned UGE it is clearly the time for Scotland to step up to its obligations under the Paris Accord and to lead the way into a world of developing a sustainable and environmentally benign economy. A second dash for gas will only distract the country from its stated decarbonisation targets and may lead to significant long term harm to communities when the wells inevitably run dry and move on.”

The Scottish Government is expected to make a decision on the consultation responses later this year.

Picture: CommonSpace

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