Go, Scotland! After hearing an overwhelming response from the public on the process of fracking, the country’s government put an “effective ban” on the controversial technique. Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, told MSPs that the practice “cannot and will not take place in Scotland.” Wheelhouse said there is little economic justification for fracking, and that the ban would deeply cut Scotland’s climate emissions.
Over 65,000 people showed up to the public consultation on fracking; reportedly, 99 percent opposed the process. The energy minister said allowing fracking would cause “Long-lasting negative impacts on communities,” as well as impact Scotland’s public health and the environment. As a result, the moratorium which was put in place since 2015 would continue “indefinitely.” He said, ”The decision I am announcing today means that fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland.”
In 2015, the country banned fracking and underground coal gasification. This development followed a series of reports on the potential health, environmental and economic effects of allowing the technique. Once Wheelhouse saw that 99 percent of the public opposed fracking, he realized “there is no social licence for unconventional oil and gas to be taken forward at this time”.
Environmentalists are celebrating the move. WWF Scotland official Sam Gardner said it was “excellent news.” He said, “the climate science is clear” that dirty fuels should be “left in the ground.” However, some are saying the move did not go far enough. Labour MSP Claudia Beamish, for instance, argued that the ministers were “merely extending” the existing moratorium which “could be overturned at any point at the whim of a minister.” The Scottish Green agrees that a permanent ban needs to be instated. Mary Church, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said ministers should “go further than relying on planning powers” and “instead commit to passing a law to ban the fracking industry for good.”
Not everyone is in favor of the move. Scottish Conservatives say Scotland will miss out on a “much-needed economic boost” and high-skilled jobs. Tory MSP Dean Lockhart commented that ministers had “ignored scientific and economic evidence to take a “short-sighted and economically damaging decision which is nothing more than a bid to appease the green elements of the pro-independence movement.” According to Wheelhouse, MSPs will be given a vote on the issue later this year before a final decision is made. The BBC reports that because only Conservatives oppose the ban, the vote is likely to be a formality and nothing more.