This afternoon Energy Minister Fergus Ewing will lay out the Scottish Government’s latest policy on unconventional gas and fracking. This follows a new policy for a moratorium on the industry from Scottish Labour and a vote in the Commons yesterday in which the SNP voted for a moratorium.

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“Fergus Ewing’s statement to the Scottish Parliament this afternoon will be the crucial test of whether or not the Scottish Government are going to protect people and the climate from unconventional gas and fracking.

“If Mr Ewing is just launching the further work on regulations and health he promised last year, people across Scotland will be surprised and very disappointed. Many of the SNP’s 60,000 new members are under the impression that the party would protect Scotland from fracking. They won’t be happy if the SNP fail to deliver at least a moratorium on unconventional gas.”

Last July the Scottish Government’s Independent Expert Scientific Panel on Unconventional Gas reported and Mr Ewing announced that there would be further work to fix problems with the regulatory regime and to look at the evidence on health impacts.

Dixon continued:

“Scottish Labour has set the bar high with a promise of a comprehensive moratorium on the industry if they win the next Scottish election. The SNP supported a moratorium on this dirty industry at Westminster and it is only a small step to the Scottish Government implementing a full moratorium on unconventional gas and fracking while they fully examine the impacts of this industry on health, climate and the environment. Even better, the Scottish Government should just ban this unnecessary industry altogether and focus on making the most of our abundant renewable energy resources.

“Monday’s report from the Westminster Environmental Audit Committee that shale gas would bust the UK’s climate targets adds to evidence of health and environmental problems, giving plenty of reason to call a total halt to this industry while its impacts are properly assessed. These are the kinds of concerns that have led New York State, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and many others to put in place moratoria or bans.”

“We urge the Scottish Government to use its powers over planning to freeze current applications and accept no more for any kind of unconventional gas – shale gas, coal bed methane or underground coal gasification.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. Fergus Ewing will make a statement to the Scottish Parliament on strengthening the Scottish Government’s approach to unconventional gas at around 2:40pm this afternoon. Over a thousand people have emailed the First Minister to call for a ban or moratorium on all types of unconventional gas and fracking.
2. Our comment on Monday’s debate in the Commons: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/UK-govt-defeats-fracking-moratorium
3. Our reaction to the Scottish Government’s Independent Scientific Expert Panel on Unconventional Gas: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/independent-unconventionals-panel-raises-concerns
4. Our comment on the Environmental Audit Committee report is at: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/WM-enviro-cmte-fracking-report
5. Reaction to Scottish Labour’s announcement on Saturday: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/Scottish-Labour-fracking
6. Reaction to SNP MPs’ commitment to vote for a moratorium on fracking: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/SNP-fracking-vote
7. 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.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk