Ahead of the General Election next week and BBC Scotland documentary tonight, Friends of the Earth Scotland has compared the manifesto promises on fracking.

While the Greens are the only party to call for an outright ban on fracking and other unconventional fossil fuels, the SNP continue to support a moratorium, Scottish Labour stand by their commitment to a 'triple-lock', and the Scottish Liberal Democrats call for a precautionary approach assessing impacts before the industry can go ahead.

Of the main parties seeking election in Scotland only the Conservatives and UKIP explicitly support shale gas fracking.

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

“Fracking has been a huge part of the debate in post-Referendum Scotland and continues to be a politically toxic issue despite the moratorium now in place.

“While some of the major UK parties have been reluctant to draw too much attention to their positions on this vote-losing issue, a switched-on Scottish electorate is scrutinising the various claims in this critical pre-election period.

“The current UK Government planned to offer a huge swathe of the most populated part of Scotland, and 60% of England and Wales to fracking companies, ahead of any serious assessment of the public health and environmental implications of doing so. That fact, and the parties' records on this controversial issue will be on people's minds when they go to the ballot in under two weeks.”

A BBC Scotland Investigations documentary “The War on Fracking” showing tonight at 7:30pm will hear from politicians from the major parties.

Church continued: “We are convinced that when Scottish people are consulted on fracking later this year they will say a resounding no to this dirty, unnecessary industry.”


Below we highlight the positions, records, and pledges on fracking and unconventional gas of the main parties as outlined in their 2015 General Election Manifestos. We have included both UK party and the Scottish party manifestos to show where these differ.

Scottish National Party

Pledge: “We will also continue to support a moratorium on fracking.”

Record: “Throughout this Parliament SNP MPs have worked hard to take forward the priorities of people in Scotland. We’ve voted to protect people from drilling under their homes without their permission, by opposing the Infrastructure Bill, and backing a moratorium on fracking.”

Scottish Labour

Pledge: “For onshore unconventional oil and gas, we will commit to a triple lock against fracking by establishing a robust environmental and regulatory regime, ensuring any environmental concerns are addressed, and give local communities the final say before any extraction can take place.”

Position: “The impact of fracking on our natural landscape and the quality of our environment has been raised across the country. Scottish Labour believes there should be strong protections in place to ensure that fracking is safe. Until those protections are in place, no fracking should take place in Scotland.

“Scottish Labour will also give the final say on fracking to local communities with a local referendum before final planning approval is given. This will mean that local people across Scotland will have the choice of whether to have fracking take place near their homes.”

UK Labour

Pledge: “For onshore unconventional oil and gas, we will establish a robust environmental and regulatory regime before extraction can take place.”

Scottish Greens

Record: “Greens secured greater powers over fracking, energy efficiency and fuel poverty during the Smith Commission.”

Green Party of England and Wales

Pledge: “We are emphatic and unambiguous in proposing an outright ban on fracking and related extreme energy technologies (coal-bed methane and underground coal gasification, as well as hydraulic fracturing.” “We will ban all UK fracking operations – following a growing number of nations worldwide – and withdraw all relevant licences as soon as possible. “

Record: “Three years ago we called for a moratorium on fracking-related activity while the environmental and economic impacts of drilling for shale gas were evaluated.

Position: “Fracking is incompatible with the UK’s climate change obligations. There is already around five times more fossil fuel globally than we can safely burn if are to avoid dangerous climate change. Encouraging a whole new fossil fuel industry is deeply irresponsible and undermines international efforts to secure a global climate agreement. Fracking will put communities and our environment at risk. There are serious and legitimate concerns about the potential for fracking to cause water contamination, air pollution and harm to wildlife and public health. Fracking sites would entail mass lorry movements, blighting our countryside and villages.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Position: “The UK has significant stores of unconventional gas, which could be accessed through the process known as fracking. It is vital that efforts to access this gas be properly regulated to protect our natural environment.

Pledge: The Scottish Liberal Democrats support a precautionary approach to fracking in Scotland. That means looking closely at the physical and social impacts before any permission can be considered for fracking in Scotland.”

Record: “For the rest of the UK Liberal Democrats in government have introduced the world’s most robust regulatory regime for unconventional gas, including banning drilling in National Parks, and will give local communities the opportunity to receive financial returns from developers.”

UK Liberal Democrats

Position: “The UK has significant stores of unconventional gas, which could be accessed through the process known as fracking. It is vital that efforts to access this gas be properly regulated to protect our natural environment.

Record: “Liberal Democrats in government have introduced the world’s most robust regulatory regime for unconventional gas, including banning drilling in National Parks, and will take two further steps to ensure any shale gas contributes to a faster transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Pledge: “Establish a Low-carbon Transition Fund using 50% of any tax revenues from shale gas to fund energy efficiency, community energy, low-carbon innovation and renewable heat. We require that once a shale gas well is finished, it must be offered at no cost to geothermal heat developers, to enable faster expansion of this renewable technology.”


Scottish Conservatives

Pledge: “We will continue to support the safe development of shale gas and will be evidence-based in our approach in contrast to the bidding war between Labour and the SNP in Scotland.”

UK Conservatives

Pledge: “A significant expansion in new gas”. “We will continue to support the safe development of shale gas, and ensure that local communities share the proceeds through generous community benefit packages. We will create a Sovereign Wealth Fund for the North of England, so that the shale gas resources of the North are used to invest in the future of the North.”

Record: “Our tax cuts have encouraged record levels of investment in existing North Sea gas, and the birth of a new industry, shale gas, which could create many thousands of jobs.”


Position & pledge: “Shale gas: time to get fracking: UKIP supports the development of shale gas, provided safeguards are in place to protect local communities and the environment. Community Infrastructure Levy income from shale gas operations will be earmarked for lower Council Taxes or local community projects. No energy extraction technology is perfectly safe, but shale gas operations in the USA for instance, where tens of thousands of shale wells have been drilled and fracked over five decades, have proved remarkably unproblematic, especially so by comparison to other methods of energy extraction. What is clearly unsafe is the UK’s over-dependence on imports from politically unstable countries. In the interests of energy security alone, the prospect of home-grown shale gas is an enormous opportunity it would be irresponsible to ignore. We will levy Petroleum Revenue Tax (currently 50 per cent) on any shale profits and invest the income into a Sovereign Wealth Fund. Norway takes this approach, with great success.”

Notes to Editors

1. ‘The War over Fracking’ documentary is due to be broadcast at 7.30pm Wednesday 29th April on BBC 1 Scotland http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05sdld1

2. You can read the parties’ manifestos on their respective websites.

3. The Scottish Government introduced a moratorium on fracking and coalbed methane development on January 2015 to allow for a full health impact assessment and public consultation to be conducted. http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/fracking-moratorium-scotland

4. Underground Coal Gasification (UGC) was not included in the Scottish Government’s moratorium despite being considered a more experimental and risky technique. Cluff Natural Resources plans to build the UK's first deep offshore UGC plant under the Firth of Forth. “Communities oppose Underground Coal Gasification Project, 22/2/15”  http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/node/1971

5. Friends of the Earth Scotland briefing on unconventional gas and fracking: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/uncon-gas-fracking-briefing-feb15

6. 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.