Reacting to the news that chemicals firm INEOS plan to invest up to £640m in fracking Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns Mary Church said:

“Spin masters INEOS have really outdone themselves this time, creating a huge amount of hype around an announcement with very little substance at its core. The UK shale gas industry is in its absolute infancy and will take many years to get anywhere near commercial production, if indeed it ever does, no matter how much money INEOS throws at it.

“Low estimates, complex geology and lack of data together with tough planning regulations and growing public opposition make Scotland a very poor prospect indeed for the shale gas industry. INEOS is well out of step with the rest of the industry who have given up claiming that shale gas will reduce energy bills. Nor will fracking be reviving manufacturing any time soon given the timescales, costs and sheer novelty of this industry in the UK context.”

INEOS has claimed they will be producing shale gas in just 18 months, however the only commercial unconventional gas application in the UK, Dart Energy’s plans for coalbed methane at Airth, has been stuck in the planning system for over 2 years following mass public opposition, and has now been called in by Ministers for a decision early next year. Fracking company Cuadrilla has confirmed that they would need to drill and frack 40 wells over a 5 year period to establish whether there is an economically viable resource at all.

The Scottish Government introduced tough planning rules for any unconventional gas application earlier this year. While a number of Petroleum Exploration and Development Licenses granting exclusive rights to exploit unconventional gas exist in Scotland, no operator has the required permits from environmental regulator SEPA to allow them to undertake hydraulic fracturing.

Church continued: “Unlike its UK counterparts the Scottish Government have taken a cautious approach to unconventional gas and fracking, introducing a tougher planning regime and opposing plans to remove peoples’ rights to object to fracking under their homes.

“Scotland does not need unconventional gas to meet our energy needs, and extracting and burning it will jeopardise our climate targets and expose local people to unacceptable health risks. In a country that produces 7 times more hydrocarbons than we consume, and acknowledges the urgency of climate change, it would be utterly irresponsible to open up a new frontier of fossil fuels. We urge the Scottish Government to make it clear that the fracking industry has no place in Scotland by banning all unconventional gas activity once and for all.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors

1. The BBC story: http://foe-scotland.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b5ad0d61b2a67d22c6…

2. UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) said promises of lower prices and greater energy security from UK shale gas were “hype” and “lacking in evidence”. (November 2014) http://foe-scotland.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b5ad0d61b2a67d22c6…

3. Ineos claim that Britain’s shale resources have the potential to slash household bills http://foe-scotland.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=b5ad0d61b2a67d22c…

4. British Geological Survey found that there was 20 times more resource in North of England than in Scotland (June 2014) http://foe-scotland.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=b5ad0d61b2a67d22c…
BGS results: http://foe-scotland.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=b5ad0d61b2a67d22c…

5. Dart Energy’s flagship coalbed methane development at Airth is the most advanced unconventional gas project in the UK. In June 2013 Dart appealed its application for 22 new wells, a gas and water treatment facility and a network of pipelines to the Scottish Government’s Department for Planning and Environmental Appeals on grounds of non-determination – that local authorities had taken too long. The planned development does not include the use of hydraulic fracturing technique, but the health and environmental impacts of coalbed methane extraction are similar to those of shale gas fracking. The appeal was heard by Public Inquiry in Spring 2014. Over 2,500 individual objections were lodged, with 9 community councils representing over 70,000 people and 2 local authorities calling on the Scottish Government to refuse the application. In October 2014 the Scottish Government announced that it would decide the application given the high degree of public interest. A decision is expected in early 2015. Coalbed methane activity at Dart Energy’s site at Canonbie appears to be on hold pending the outcome of the Airth decision. The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman is currently investigating a complaint about the way the 19 planning permissions were dealt with. Dart Energy was recently bought out by the biggest fracking company in the UK, IGas.

6. In the recently closed 14th onshore oil and gas licensing round 20,000 square km in Scotland were offered to tender for shale gas fracking and other hydrocarbon exploitation, FoES reaction: http://foe-scotland.us2.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=b5ad0d61b2a67d22c…

7. The UK Government intends to proceed with plans to remove peoples’ rights to object to, or even be notified about, fracking underneath their homes, despite the stated objection of the Scottish Government and over 99% of respondents to its consultation. The plans apply to shale gas and oil only as comparable rights for coalbed methane extraction were removed under the 1994 Coal Industry Act. FoES reaction: http://foe-scotland.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b5ad0d61b2a67d22c6…

8. Bans and moratoriums around the world include:
· France: First country to ban March 2011
· Denmark: Moratorium on fracking
· Germany: Moratorium on hydraulic fracturing since 2012, considering a ban
· Bulgaria: Ban since January 2012
· Czech Republic: Moratorium in May 2012
· Netherlands: Moratorium on unconventional fossil fuel drilling
· Spain: Cantabria banned fracking in 2013 La Rioja, Navarra and Catalonia followed suit
· Switzerland: Moratorium on fracking in the canton of Fribourg 2011
· Ireland: 2-year moratorium in March 2013
· Northern Ireland: Assembly voted for moratorium, Government failed to implement
· Canada: Quebec & Newfoundland moratorium on fracking, Nova Scotia working toward ban
· USA: Vermont banned fracking in May 2012, and New York moratorium in 2013; New Jersey ban on waste water disposal
· Australia: New South Wales, ban on any coal seam gas activity in 2km of residential areas, Feb 2013; Victoria moratorium on fracking

9. 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.