Scottish government backs the people, bans fracking

In a heart-warming and climate-cooling victory for both democracy and environment, the Scottish government plans to place an indefinite ban on fracking.

A temporary moratorium on the environmentally questionable fossil fuel extraction technique had already been in place since January 2015, with a five-month public consultation earlier this year inviting citizens’ views on whether it should be made permanent.

After over 99% of 60,000 responses to this consultation opposed the practice, Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse told MSPs on Tuesday that it “cannot and will not take place in Scotland”. While the ban requires ratification from Holyrood, the vote is almost certain to be a formality, with only the Conservatives in opposition.

Fracking: the extraction of gas and oil by drilling into shale rock beneath the earth before directing a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals at the rock to release the gas inside. Learn about the risks of fracking here.

The result is a significant victory for community over commercial interests, with big shale gas player INEOS slamming the decision after having threatened to sue the Scottish government if they announced a ban. INEOS holds fracking exploration licences across 700 square miles of the country, and its CEO, Jim Ratcliffe, has met multiple times with government ministers in various departments.

After a six-year tax exile in Switzerland, the Scottish firm have recently been busy leading lobbying efforts for Westminster to use Brexit to remove barriers to fracking and weaken environmental taxes.

Wales, which also opposes fracking, currently faces uncertainty over its ability to block fracking licences until further devolved powers come into force.

This story is a shining example of the difference politically active citizens can make. If we use our voices, then lawmakers will listen. INEOS will likely now concentrate existing efforts to pursue shale gas exploration in England, where the government has already ignored overwhelming community opposition to Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire.

Lise Masson of the UK Youth Climate Coalition hailed tireless opposition to Cuadrilla’s fracking plans, with continual protests “causing significant delays and economic damage to the industry”. She called on the industry and on Westminster to “listen to the voices saying loud and clear: we don’t want fracking, not here, not anywhere”.

If you’d like to voice opposition to fracking in England, you can sign Friends of the Earth’s petition, support the Preston New Road fracking blockade, or donate to their legal fund.

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