Scot-Govt launches ‘Talking Fracking’ public consultation on unconventional onshore oil and shale gas

Locations where UK Dept of Energy exploration licences have been issued.
Locations where UK Dept of Energy exploration licences have been issued, mainly in East and North Glasgow, Stirling and Falkirk-Grangemouth areas.

The minority SNP-led Scottish government has today launched its ‘consultation’ on shale gas.

After several, independent scientific export reports – including those commissioned by the Scot-Govt have concluded that onshore exploration for ‘unconventional’ oil and gas can be carried out safely – the Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse is now seeking public views on the evidence.

But – in a highly unusual move – instead of simply asking questions after presenting evidence, the Scot-Govt has inserted its ‘opinions’ on the evidence and scientific reports.

The purple line defines all the areas where there are potential shale gas reserves in Scotland - but which have not been licensed for exploration - including the 'Gulf of Gullane deep into East and Mid Lothian - because of the Scot-Govt fracking moratorium
The purple line defines all the areas where there are potential shale gas reserves in Scotland – but which have not been licensed for exploration – including the ‘Gulf of Gullane deep into East and Mid Lothian – because of the Scot-Govt fracking moratorium


The BGS estimate that the Midland Valley holds between 49.4 – 134.6 tcf (trillion** cubic feet) of shale gas.

The Bowland Basin in Lancashire, England is estimated to hold between 822 tcf and 2,281 tcf of shale gas.

For comparison, total annual gas consumption in Scotland in 2014 was estimated to be 150 billion** cubic feet/year (0.15 tcf).

Only a proportion of these resources is likely to be commercially viable for development or production. Exploratory work would be required to better understand how much oil and gas could be economically and technically recovered. “

The Scottish Energy Minister claims that the consultation document is ‘impartial’.

Wheelhouse said: “This consultation does not set out or advocate a preferred Scottish Government position or policy.

“Instead, this consultation is an opportunity for the people of Scotland and our stakeholders to consider the evidence, and to present views on that evidence and the future of this industry in Scotland.”

Wheelhouse also said that the Scottish Government is committed to ‘evidence-led’ policy making whilst using the ‘evidence of public views’ gathered in the consultation ‘as part of the pool of evidence’.

The Scottish Government has commissioned a report by an Independent Expert Scientific Panel, and commissioned a series of research projects to explore certain issues in more detail.

The, will run for the duration of the consultation. 

Discussion tool-kits have been created to help communities and other groups participate in the consultation.  These can be accessed at

Download the consultation paper. Consultation closes on 31 May 2017

Whatever the outcome of this consultation, the final decision to frack or not to frack will be made by the Scot-Govt in the new parliamentary year in Autumn 2017.

Ken Cronin
Ken Cronin

UK onshore oil and gas industry welcomes Scottish shale gas consultation

The UK Onshore Oil & Gas (UKOOG) industry body welcomed the Scot-Govt shale energy consultation.

Ken Cronin, Chief Executive, said: “We hope that the launch of this consultation can lead to a reasoned debate across a wider audience about the future of the onshore oil and gas industry in Scotland.”

“The studies by experts including Health Protection Scotland, KPMG and the British Geological Survey, clearly demonstrate the case for lifting the moratorium on unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland.

“Gas plays an important role in Scotland’s domestic economy, with 79% of domestic heating provided by gas. In addition, industrial and commercial gas consumption makes up 43% of all gas consumed in Scotland.

“Scotland has the highest mean domestic consumption and also one of the highest commercial consumptions in the UK reflecting the industrial positon of Scotland. In fact, in 2013 88% of all Scotland’s energy came from either oil or gas.

“As an industry based on over 50 years of experience both onshore and offshore, we are confident that hydraulic fracturing can be done safely and environmentally sensitively within the regulatory environment in Scotland.”

See also:

5 Jan 2017

Fibbing by Friends of Earth with false fracking claims will make Scot-Govt’s final public consultation on shale gas worthless

24 Jan 2017

God gives green-light to shale gas fracking in England (but SNP claims higher authority for Scottish ban)



The Scottish Government consultation on unconventional onshore oil and gas would be thrown out of any criminal court as ‘misleading evidence’ or ‘leading questions’ because of the controversial inclusion of the Scot-Govt’s own opinions on the evidence alongside the evidence.

This is like the SNP conducting an opinion poll on which political party voters think would make the best party of Government – and then adding that – in its opinion –  ‘the other parties are all run by numpties… we’re just saying like..but it’s up to you.”

Even when trying to be even-handed, the ‘consultation’ document plays down the commercial and economic development potential of onshore oil and gas by saying, in effect;

“The <independent> British Geological Survey has shown that there are trillions of cubic feet of shale gas below our feet – a vast untapped resource which dwarves the amount of natural gas consumed each year in Scotland –   but we’re not going to bother trying because it might be too difficult to recover.

This is also akin to seeking to seriously undermine the academic credentials and intellectual probity of the independent scientific experts.

Or put it this way; If the evidence of the independent scientific experts had conclusively decided that shale gas exploration could not be carried out safely, would the Scottish government be wasting its time, and our money, on seeking (subjective) public opinion on expert evidence to prove the contrary?

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