A series of reports published by the Scottish Government today (Tuesday 8 November) contain damning evidence on the impacts of developing a shale gas fracking and coalbed methane industry in Scotland. 

The reports say:

  • Climate impacts: developing an unconventional gas industry will make it harder to meet our climate targets; left unregulated the emissions footprint due to methane leakage could be substantial. 
  • Health impacts: there is evidence that a number of air and water born environmental hazards would be likely to occur as a result of fracking operations; evidence that Unconventional Oil and Gas workers health could be at risk from the use of silica in fracking operations; and evidence of other industry hazards that could pose a risk to the health of nearby residents.
  • Economic impacts: it is unclear if the fracking industry could ever be commercially viable in Scotland; if the industry did go ahead it would likely only contribute on average 0.1% of GDP, with a direct spend of £2.2bn in Scotland up to 2062, and only bring 1,400 direct and indirect jobs; current low oil prices mean it would be extremely challenging climate to develop Unconventional Oil and Gas in Scotland. 
  • Transport impacts: Unconventional Oil and Gas operations will result in increased traffic for communities, potentially over very many years; increased traffic could result in more noise, emissions, road damage and accidents.

In his statement to the Scottish Parliament this afternoon Energy and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP emphasised the importance of remembering that shale gas and coalbed methane resources are located in the most densely populated part of country.

Friends of the Earth Head of Campaigns Mary Church said:

“Fracking is bad for the climate, bad for public health and won’t do much good for the economy. That’s the damning verdict of the independent studies published by the Scottish Government today, echoing the concerns of communities across the country. 

“The economic case for pursuing an unconventional gas industry in Scotland simply doesn’t stand up, while the risks of doing so could be utterly devastating for communities and the environment. No state has had a moratorium on fracking, looked at the evidence and decided it’s a good idea. 

“Support for fracking is at an all time low. People just don’t want this dirty, dangerous industry. We are confident that when the Scottish people are given a chance to have their say in the forthcoming Government consultation, the answer will be a resounding ‘no’ to fracking.”