Last month Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Energy Minister, announced a moratorium on granting planning consents for unconventional oil and gas developments in Scotland.
But – as exclusively revealed by Scottish Energy News (see below) – there are a number of live licence applications for unconventional shale gas exploration in the Central Belt being considered by the UK Department of Energy (DECC).
These applications were made during DECC’s 14th round of onshore licensing – and before the Scottish Government’s moratorium.
UK energy minister may still give go ahead to Scottish fracking licences despite Holyrood moratorium – http://goo.gl/zZKFQm
Last night, a spokesman for DECC said: “Any decision on whether shale developments can occur in Scotland is and always has been a matter for the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government has substantial control of onshore oil and gas activities through planning controls and environmental regulation as these are devolved.
“However, the UK Government continues to carefully consider applications received as part of the 14th onshore licencing round. These include applications for licences in Scotland.”
“We are not yet in a position to announce the outcome of these applications, nor who applied for which blocks and where they are.”
Last year, the British Geological Survey identified substantial shale gas reserves across the Central Belt – from eastern Glasgow to East Lothian ( in particular in the ‘Gulf of Gullane’ sweetspot) and southern Fife.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said last night: “Given that the powers over onshore oil and gas licensing will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, it makes no sense for the UK Government to issues licences in Scotland through the 14th onshore licensing round.
“Therefore, I wrote to the UK Government on 23 January asking that no new licences be issued in Scotland by DECC.
“I am yet to receive a reply from Ed Davey <UK Energy Secretary> on this.
“We have also successfully campaigned to ensure that UK Government plans to remove householders rights to refuse permission for drilling under their homes will not apply in Scotland.”