The bitter political battle in the largely ‘fact-free fracking debate’ over onshore oil and gas exploration in Scotland enters its last stage this week in Holyrood.
Despite the independent scientific evidence of two reports it commissioned, the Scot-Govt. is holding a vote in parliament this week to turn its ‘temporary moratorium’ into a permanent ban on any such planning applications.
However, the UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) has written to all 129 Holyrood MPs ahead of this week’s vote urging them to reject the fracking ban while warning it will damage Scotland’s reputation for scientific innovation
Ken Cronin, UKOOG chief executive, said the Scottish Government was turning its back on 3,000 potential jobs along with £6.5 billion of economic benefit.
Meanwhile the Scottish Green Party has unanimously backed a call for the Scot-Govt. to make its ban on fracking “legally watertight”.
Mark Ruskell, the party’s MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, told the party’s conference that outlawing onshore oil and gas exploration would be the “biggest victory in the history of the Green movement in Scotland”.
While the Scottish Government has said it will not permit fracking to take place north of the border, concerns have been raised that the ban is not a permanent one, and could be ended if there were a change of government at Holyrood.
Ruskell said: “The Scottish Government is sincere in its intent to ban fracking but we call on them to put the ban on a legal basis that cannot be undone by the stroke of a toxic Tory pen or an INEOS court injunction.
“We are calling for a proper ban under the national planning framework alongside the use of oil and gas licensing powers.”
But supporters, including the Scottish Conservatives, highlight the economic opportunities fracking could bring to Scotland with the North Sea oil and gas sector in decline.
See also: Scot-Govt vows to impose permanent ban on fracking
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