Commenting on the news that Scottish Labour would introduce a moratorium on shale gas fracking if elected in 2016, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Head of Campaigns Mary Church said:

“Labour’s ‘triple-lock’ commitment to halt fracking in Scotland is very welcome news indeed, and would stop the shale gas industry for a great many years, if not forever.

“Jim Murphy has made it clear that Scottish Labour would not only give communities a vote on whether fracking goes ahead in their area, but that before the industry gets off the ground work to assess its impacts elsewhere in the UK must be carried out. Given that the fracking industry is in its infancy in the UK it will be years, if not decades before lessons from its exploitation in the UK can be learned.

“Climate science means that by the time a true assessment of the environmental and health impacts of shale gas fracking in the UK can be undertaken, our energy systems will need to be totally decarbonised. Scottish Labour policy effectively tolls the death knell of the fracking industry before it ever gets off the ground.

“Mr Murphy’s announcement today is to a serious challenge to the Scottish Government to get off the fence and act now to stop unconventional gas extraction in Scotland. On Monday, the SNP’s MPs get the chance to vote for a moratorium in the debate on the Infrastructure Bill. This will be the first public test of whether they will protect communities and the climate. Unconventional gas is unsafe, unnecessary and unwanted, the Scottish Government should focus on making the most of our abundant renewable resources instead.

“Labour are also becoming stronger on fracking and unconventional gas at the UK level and we hope Jim Murphy’s move in Scotland will encourage them to be even bolder.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. Scottish Labour is calling on the Scottish Government to use existing planning powers to block shale gas extraction until full onshore oil and gas licensing powers are devolved to Holyrood, as planned under the Smith reforms.

2. Shale gas extraction is in its infancy in the UK and, should operations commence, they could be expected to last for around 25 years. There is no blueprint for post operation monitoring, but experts at Durham University’s REFINE unit recommends that soils around plugged and abandoned wells should be monitored every 5 years for leakage https://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/refine/Publishedversion.pdf. Appropriate post operation monitoring would add further decades before full lifecycle lessons are learned.

3. More on the Infrastructure Bill vote: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/infra-bill

4. 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