Anti-fracking group insist Scottish Government consult better than UK counterparts

Campaign group insist government have informed public on fracking – but say they could do more

AN ANTI-FRACKING group have said the Scottish Government has consulted the public more than their UK counterparts on the dangers of shale gas and oil exploration.

Broad Alliance member Penny Cole praised the government for setting up Talking Fracking, a website to inform the public.

Cole said: “Apparently it had about 60,000 responses - the second biggest number of responses there has ever been to a public consultation.

“I think the fact that the Scottish government has conducted this consultation means that they have put more effort into informing the public than the UK government has in England.” Penny Cole

“I think the fact that the Scottish government has conducted this consultation means that they have put more effort into informing the public than the UK government has in England.

“There, the government is determined to push ahead with fracking willy-nilly, regardless of what people in affected communities think, including overruling Lancashire County Council when they wanted to refuse permission for Cuadrilla on a site at Preston New Road.”

Her claim comes after a recent UK Government report showed 48 per cent of people neither supported nor opposed fracking.

The department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS) report questioned 2097 people across the UK during their annual Public Attitudes Tracker (PAT) survey.

They believe people failed to offer an opinion due to lack of knowledge on the subject.

Of those who did offer an opinion, only 16 per cent of people supported the method citing reasons such as a need to use up all natural recourses available.

Cole said the Scottish Government had put a “reasonable amount” of resources into the commissioning of impact studies and website, but claimed they lacked effort when publicising their findings.

She added the Broad Alliance of communities against unconventional gas extraction thought the evidence presented on Talking Fracking was “particularly poor.”

Cole said the impact to public health study was “inadequate” and the economic benefit of the process showed “negligible benefit” to the economy in terms of GDP, tax revenue and jobs.

Craig Dalzell, Head of Research at Common Weal said: “Common Weal's research into the economics of fracking has shown that the case is strongly against its use.

“The history of it and similar industries is one of a consistent track record of short term boom followed by long term bust in which communities which grow reliant on fracking income end up abandoned when the wells inevitably run dry in just a few short years.”

Dalzell added concerns about long-term monitoring assurances of “capped” wells to prevent or repair leaks could be “insufficient” which could increase public costs and the environment longer term.

“SNP ministers should back my bid to change the law and ban fracking in Scotland.” Claudia Beamish MSP

He concluded by saying it would be a mistake for Scotland to repeat the negative effects after the collapse of the coal mining industry with fracking.

Following analysis from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) showing potential risks from the practice Claudia Beamish MSP, who is proposing a member’s bill to ban fracking, said: “The places most at risk from fracking are highly populated parts of urban central Scotland.

“Given those figures, SNP ministers should back my bid to change the law and ban fracking in Scotland.

“Holyrood has already voted to ban fracking in Scotland – it’s now time to make that decision.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government has put in place a moratorium on 'fracking' which means no projects can currently take place here.

“The Scottish Government has put in place a moratorium on 'fracking' which means no projects can currently take place here.” Scottish Government

“We published key research reports on the potential impacts of unconventional oil and gas and carried out an extensive public consultation, which closed on 31 May 2017 and which attracted more than 60,000 responses and generated significant public debate.

“Scottish Ministers will consider the evidence and results of the consultation and come to a considered view on the future of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland, and will put a recommendation on the way forward to the Scottish Parliament for MSPs to vote on this important issue.”

The UK Government hadn’t responded by the time we published this article. 

Picture courtesy of pxhere.

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