The UK Government’s 14th onshore oil and gas licensing round, in which 20,000 square km across central and southern Scotland has been offered for unconventional fossil fuel exploitation, draws to a close today. The successful bidders and areas under license will not be made public until after the UK General Election.

Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns Mary Church said:

“The UK Government appears to be hellbent on handing some of the most populated and beautiful parts of the country to the fracking industry despite the very significant risks it poses.

“While leading economists warn that fracking will not reduce gas prices nor impact on energy security, the UK Government is ploughing ahead with removing peoples’ rights to object to gas drilling underneath their homes in an effort to woo the industry.”

“Although the Scottish shale resource is thought to be moderate and difficult to access, opportunistic operators looking to make a quick buck will take up licenses in the central belt in the hope of hitting a sweet spot, unless the Scottish Government sends a clear signal that they are not welcome.”

Mark Carney, Governor of Bank of England stated two weeks ago that “vast majority of reserves are unburnable” if global temperature rises are to be limited to below 2C.

Church continued:

“In the context of the latest climate science, opening up a new frontier of fossil fuels is totally irresponsible. We urge the Scottish Government to use existing powers to implement a ban on unconventional gas extraction altogether and instead focus on harnessing our abundant clean energy resources.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. DECC launched the 14th onshore oil and gas licensing round on 28th July 2014 in which 20,000 square km in Scotland are offered to tender for shale gas fracking and other hydrocarbon exploitation, FoES reaction: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/offered-central-belt-fracking

2.The UK Government’s dash for gas has seen them remove people’s right to object or be notified about drilling under their homes, allowing firms to leave whatever substance they wish underground and offering the world’s most generous shale gas tax regime.
‘UK Government ignores overwhelming public opposition to fracking law plans’ FOES reaction http://foe-scotland.org.uk/UK-government-ignores-public-opposition-fracking
‘UK to allow fracking companies to use 'any substance' under homes’ The Guardian, October 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/14/uk-to-allow-fracking-…
‘George Osborne pledges most generous tax regime for shale gas’ The Telegraph, July 2013 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/10189932/George-O…

3. 'Cameron's claim fracking will lower gas prices is baseless, says Lord Stern’ The Guardian, Sep 2013 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/04/david-cameron-frackin…
‘Lord Browne: fracking will not reduce UK gas prices’ The Guardian, 29 November 2013 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/29/browne-fracking-not-r…
‘Osborne: Fracking may not slash household energy bills’ BBC, 4 February 2014
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26030204

4. The British Geological survey suggested there was only a modest amount of shale gas and oil potential in the Midland Valley (Scotland’s central belt), around only 5% of the shale gas resource in the Bowland Shale in northern England. They also noted the challenges of extracting the resource in the complex geological formations in this area. Recoverability estimates tend to be in the range of less than 1% – 5%. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bgs-midland-valley-of-scotlan…

5. Mark Carney: most fossil fuel reserves can't be burned, The Guardian, 13 Oct 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/13/mark-carney-fossil-fu…

6. Chemical company Ineos recently announced they have purchased two licences for an undisclosed sum and were quoted in The Mail on Sunday on the 19th October saying they are on track to drill in early 2016.

7. DECC say that they will notify successful bidders in early 2015 but it is expected that public disclosure of location and identity of these bids will not happen before the UK General Election of May 2015.

8. Friends of the Earth Scotland is

* Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation

* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland

* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 74 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.