Scottish government confirm no support for fracking

The Scottish Government has set out a finalised policy of no support for the development of unconventional oil and gas (UOG) sometimes known as “fracking” in Scotland.

This means the Scottish Government will not issue licences for new UOG development, and that Scotland’s planning framework will not support development using unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques, including coal bed methane and hydraulic fracturing.

In a statement made at Holyrood by Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse he confirmed this position following a comprehensive period of evidence-gathering and consultation, including environmental and business assessments. He also set out the factors which led to this decision, including the incompatibility of UOG development with climate change policy.

The finalised policy position will also be reflected in the next iteration of the National Planning Framework.  Under the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 this must be approved by Parliament before it can be adopted by Ministers. Once the new National Planning Framework has been approved, no Government will be able to adopt a revised National Planning Framework to support unconventional oil and gas development without the backing of the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Wheelhouse said:

“The Scottish Government’s final policy position is that we do not support the development of unconventional oil and gas – often known as ‘fracking’ - in Scotland.

“That decision followed consideration of many factors including the significant negative effects that UOG development could have on our natural environment and the health and wellbeing of communities, while bearing in mind the overwhelming feedback from the public that this should not be permitted in Scotland.

“After a comprehensive evidence-gathering exercise, we have concluded that the development of onshore unconventional oil and gas is incompatible with our policies on climate change, energy transition and the decarbonisation of our economy.

“Fracking can only happen if licences are issued and we do not intend to issue any licences which would permit that.”

“I want to thank all those who contributed to our policy process and to recognise the considered submissions made by so many people.”

It has taken four years for the Scottish government to make the statement. Ministers said they would take an "evidence based" approach and ordered six reports into the impact of fracking.

A subsequent consultation exercise showed "overwhelming opposition" to the practice which has caused ground tremors in Lancashire where the UK government has given its backing to the sector.

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