‘Fracking fever’ hits Holyrood as speculation mounts that Scottish Energy Minister is to announce SNP-Govt. Bill to outlaw Scots shale gas


By Scottish Energy News

(which is <still> banned by ‘open and transparent’ Scottish Parliament)

The minority SNP-led Scot-Government is due to make a formal announcement today in Holyrood on unconventional oil and gas – aka shale energy.

Neither the Scot-Govt nor the Scottish parliament provided more information. But it appears to not be a statement from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, meaning it will be made by Trade & Industry Minister Keith Brown or the (junior) Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse.

Speculation and rumour spread like wildfire around Holyrood today after the statement was scheduled by parliamentary clerks in the Scottish parliament

The last (majority) SNP Government introduced a ‘temporary’ ban on drilling and exploring for onshore oil and gas by hydraulic fracturing (aka ‘fracking’) – which is a day and daily occurrence in the offshore oil and gas industry in the North Sea.

Alexander Burnett, MSP
Alexander Burnett, MSP

Alexander Burnett, MSP, the Tory shadow Scottish Energy minister in Holyrood, commented: “We will, of course, be interested to hear what the government has to say <tomorrow>

“However, our position remains that the SNP has already commissioned expert scientific advice, which found that fracking can safely take place in Scotland.

“The moratorium was put in place purely for political reasons, and a decision from on this issue is now well overdue.

“The question is, will the Scottish Government be brave enough to put economic growth and job creation before political dogma and allow the use of this technology to proceed.”

Last week, Claudia Beamish, MSP, the spokesman on climate-change for the Labour party in Scotland, announced her plan to introduce a back-bench Bill in Holyrood to permanently outlaw fracking.

But in the absence of firm evidence or unofficial ‘guidance’ as to the content of the Ministerial announcement, senior sources in the Scottish parliament building (which meanwhile maintains an entirely undemocratic and meretricious ban on Scottish Energy News being represented at Holyrood) said there are two possible explanations.

The first explanation – in advance of tomorrow’s statement (due at 2pm) – is that the Scot-Govt. is going to announce the conclusions of its (second) independent examination of the scientific facts relating to public safety over onshore oil exploration and recovery.

The second possible explanation is that – in light of the recently announced plan by the Labour party in Scotland to introduce a Bill in the Scottish parliament calling for an outright and permanent ban on ‘fracking’ – the Scottish Government is playing ‘party politics’ and may attempt to steal Labour’s thunder by announcing its own Bill outlawing shale gas exploration.

However, a source in the Scottish parliament building said: “It’s difficult to believe that the Scot-government needs a full-on ‘ministerial’ statement to announce to MSPs the result of a scientific review – especially as the first one the SNP-government commissioned has already reported that onshore oil and gas exploration can be carried out safely under the current and/or prospective new health and safety regulations.

The source also said: “With the US presidential elections taking place tomorrow (8 Nov) this may be  good day for the Scottish government to ‘bury bad news’  if it decides to bring in its own Bill to permanently prohibit onshore oil and gas exploration.

“This also applies if the SNP government accept the conclusions of its first (independent) review of the scientific facts relating to safe onshore oil and gas drilling – as well as the  logic and vast weight of publicly-available evidence of the scientific facts relating to its second (independent) review relating to safe onshore oil and gas drilling; ie they’ll be looking for somewhere to hide if they announce a permanent ban.”

The first Holyrood defeat suffered by the SNP government since the May general election was on fracking, with the Scots parliament voting for Labour’s proposals for a ban as SNP MSPs abstained. 

The INEOS shale-gas Dragon-class super-tanker Insight docks at Grangemouth last month with the first import of US shale gas into Scotland.

The INEOS shale-gas Dragon-class super-tanker ‘Insight’ docks at Grangemouth last month with the first import of US shale gas into Scotland because of the Scot-Govt. ‘temporary’ moratorium.

Claudia Beamish, Labour MSP and party spokesman on climate-change, said last week: “Labour will change the law to ban fracking in Scotland. We need to fulfil Scotland’s renewables potential and we can’t do that if we allow fracking in our communities. 

“Scotland relying on fracking for our energy needs will lock us into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy. 

“SNP ministers now face an urgent choice – they can work with Labour to ban fracking, or they can work with the Tories to allow drilling under family homes in parts of central Scotland.”

See also: 

OFFshore N. Sea oil companies launch £250,000 new shale gas fracking project to tap ONshore reserves


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