Holyrood MPs vote 4 to 1 in favour of ‘fracking ban with knobs on’ to permanently prevent onshore oil and gas exploration in Scotland

A small group of anti-fracking protestors gathered outside Holyrood during the debate to permanently ban onshore oil and gas exploration in Scotland..
A small group of anti-fracking protestors gathered outside Holyrood during the debate to permanently ban onshore oil and gas exploration in Scotland.

The Tories were left isolated yesterday as all other opposition parties united behind a composite Scot-Govt motion in a vote to ‘ban fracking with knobs on’ in Holyrood.

MPs in the Scottish Parliament backed the SNP-led minority Scot-Govt amended motion by 91 votes to 28.

This means that an effective ban using devolved planning powers is now in place and ensures that decisions on onshore unconventional oil and gas developments will be made against the framework of Scottish Government policy.

The SNP’s own motion – to introduce an effective and immediate ban on onshore oil and gas exploration in Scotland – was always going to win the Holyrood vote, which it did

But before that was approved, ‘even green-er’ amendments to the SNP motion were added- by similar sized votes to the main motion (above) by Opposition MSPs from the Labour, Liberal and Scottish Green parties.

So that the ‘catch-all’ anti-fracking motion approved by MSPs resolved that Parliament: –  

  • Agrees with the Scottish Government’s position of not supporting the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland;
  • Endorses the government’s decision to introduce an immediate and effective ban on onshore unconventional oil and gas developments using its devolved powers in line with the Scottish Ministers’ statutory responsibilities,
  • Notes that this position will be subject to a strategic environmental assessment before being finalised;
  • Agrees that the finalised energy policy on this should be reflected within the next iteration of the National Planning Framework, which is subject to consideration by parliament prior to its adoption;
  • Supports the robust further development of renewables, and commits to actively exploring and supporting public, municipal co-operative and community models of ownership in this sector;
  • Agrees that the Scottish Government’s position should be included in the Scottish Energy Strategy, in addition to its incorporation in the next National Planning Framework:
  • Further agrees that licensing powers for onshore oil and gas should be transferred immediately to the Scottish Parliament from the UK Government and utilised in a way that is compatible with the Parliament’s view on unconventional oil and gas development;
  • Considers that the focus for the future must be on renewables, establishing sustainable energy supplies and creating green jobs, and:
  • Believes that opening up a whole new front of carbon-based fuels would be a distraction and divert investment and research away from green technologies.

The Tories voted against all the ‘add-on’ motions as well as the Scot-Govt’s over-arching ban. 

Murdo Fraser, MSP, Deputy Tory party leader in Holyrood, said:“The Scottish Government’s position of imposing a ban on the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland is an ill-thought out decision which completely disregards scientific evidence.

“The ban is also incongruent with the research in the Scottish Government’s own research paper, Independent Expert Scientific Panel – Report on Unconventional Oil And Gas, which was published in 2014.

“It also highlights the Scottish Government’s inconsistency on fracking due to the continuation of fracked shale gas imports from overseas, and means that the thousands of jobs that could have been created – along with significant economic benefit and the research opportunities that fracking could have brought to Scotland – have now been lost to the country as a result”.

Fellow Tory MSP Alexander Burnett, the party’s Energy spokesman in Holyrood lamented:

“Fracking should have been the gold rush of the 21st century for Scotland”.

The ban had already been denounced by Jim Ratcliffe, the British billionaire who owns, and is executive chairman of, INEOS –  the petrochemicals giant which has invested £50 million in gaining licences  <from the UK government> for onshore oil and gas exploration in Scotland around his Grangemouth refinery, near Edinburgh.

Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Energy Minister, later commented: “As a government, and as a parliament, we have a responsibility to make decisions in the interests of the people whom we represent, confident that the choices we make will not compromise health and safety or damage the environment in which we live, nor undermine our efforts to achieve Scotland’s annual statutory greenhouse gas emissions targets.”

25 Oct 2017

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