Scottish government bans fracking after public opposition

22 September 2017

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse says allowing unconventional extraction of coal and gas would put climate goals at risk

The Guardian  Tuesday 3 October 2017       Severin Carrell   Scotland editor

The Scottish government has banned fracking after a consultation found overwhelming public opposition and little economic justification for the industry.

Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish energy minister, told MSPs that allowing fracking would undermine the government’s ambitions to deeply cut Scotland’s climate emissions, and would lead to unjustifiable environmental damage.

Although Scotland needs natural gas for heating and its chemical industries, economists with KPMG had estimated that allowing unconventional coal and gas extraction to take place would only increase Scotland’s GDP by about 0.1%, but cause environmental ruin in areas where it took place.

A public consultation on fracking policy attracted more than 65,000 responses, with about 65% of those from communities in former coal mining areas of central Scotland targeted by the fracking industry. Of those, 99% of respondents opposed it, Wheelhouse said.

It would cause “long-lasting negative impacts on communities”, he said, damaging public health, the environment, and Scotland’s climate goals. A longstanding moratorium in Scotland on allowing planning permission would be made permanent, Wheelhouse added, until Holyrood was given the powers to control licensing of oil and gas exploration.

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