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Published: Thu, October 05, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Victory! Scotland is banning fracking

Victory! Scotland is banning fracking

Wheelhouse's announcement means that local authorities will be formally told that the moratorium's directive against approving fracking applications is in force indefinitely.

Scotland's energy minister Paul Wheelhouse confirmed this week that the government will outlaw fracking.

A moratorium on the practice has been in place since January 2015 and the government's decision follows extensive consultation and consideration of reports on its potential impact.

The prime minster said work to extract shale gas needed to be properly regulated and communities should "benefit" from the process, but she did not agree with the Scottish government's decision to ban it.

Ineos, which operates the huge Grangemouth petrochemical plant in central Scotland, holds fracking exploration licences across 700 square miles of the country.

The Scottish government has previously imposed a similar block on underground coal gasification (UCG) - a separate technique used to extract gas from coal seams deep underground - on environmental grounds.

"It is clear that people across Scotland remain firmly opposed to fracking".

The announcement has been welcomed by vast sections of the green community, with WWF Scotland describing it as "excellent news" for those that have campaigned against fracking in recent years.

He also said the Scottish government decision was a "a slight on the dedicated professionalism that Scottish workers have pioneered in the North Sea".

"This is a huge win for the anti-fracking movement, particularly for those on the frontline of this dirty industry here in Scotland, who have been working for a ban these last six years".

The effective ban is backed by four of the five parties that make up the Scottish parliament, meaning that when the issue is voted on in the parliament before the end of the year, it will be a formality.

While shale gas was processed in Scotland at a site in Grangemouth after being shipped in from overseas, it was still illegal to extract the substance from beneath Scottish soil.

However, shale gas processing firm Ineos warned that the Scottish government was "turning its back on a potential manufacturing and jobs renaissance".

Today in Scotland, there are almost two million homes and over 22,000 commercial businesses that are connected to gas - 78 per cent of domestic heating is provided by gas and 43 per cent of all gas consumed is by industry.

'Extending the moratorium indefinitely, whilst welcome, is not as strong as a full legal ban'.

The MSP has lodged a private member's bill aimed at enshrining a ban in law. But she accepted that might have to wait until after onshore oil and gas licensing power had been transferred to Holyrood from Westminster.

"These proposals do not go far enough".

"We have a moral responsibility to tackle climate change and an economic responsibility to prepare Scotland for new low carbon opportunities", he told the Scottish parliament. It's not clear what will happen to the exploration rights the company has acquired in Scotland.

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