In a surprise move today the UK Government proposed to exempt Scotland from provisions in its own Infrastructure Bill which take away the right of property owners to stop fracking under their home. However, UK Minister Amber Rudd MP, rejected proposals to transfer the licensing of onshore oil and gas extraction before the General Election. The transfer of these powers was recommended by the Smith Commission .

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

“Taking away the right to say no to drilling under your home is one of the most outrageous aspects of the UK Government’s drive for unconventional gas and fracking. The Scottish Government, and thousands of people around the country objected to the removal of these rights last summer, so its good news that UK Ministers have belatedly responded to this. Our sympathies are with those people in the rest of the UK who will still lose this right stop fracking underneath their homes.

“The Smith Agreement says that onshore oil and gas licensing powers should come to Scotland so it is surprising that the UK Government has turned down the chance to do this right now. This means these powers won’t come to Scotland for at least a year, long after the UK Government hand over vast areas of the country to fracking companies in the current licensing round.

“However, the Scottish Government already has powers at its disposal to block unconventional gas and fracking north of the border under planning and environmental laws. The eventual transfer of onshore oil and gas licensing powers will simply leave the SNP with absolutely no excuse not to act to stop this dangerous and unnecessary industry.

“While the Scottish Government has been cautious in its approach to unconventional gas, the goal posts have shifted in recent months with INEOS’s plans to frack large parts of the central belt, and Cluff’s ambition to set coal seams under the Forth alight. Minsters must act now using existing powers to stop the unconventional gas industry before it becomes entrenched.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. 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