The UK Government today defeated moves by cross party MPs to introduce a moratorium on unconventional gas and fracking in a tense series of votes on the Infrastructure Bill. The SNP and others voted for an amendment that would call a halt on the industry while work to assess its impacts is carried out. Focus now shifts to an announcement from the Scottish Government expected this week.

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

“The UK Government have demonstrated wilful disregard for the mounting evidence and ever-increasing community opposition against unconventional gas by pushing ahead with their plans to go ‘all out for shale’.

“Since there won’t be a moratorium at UK level any time soon, we urge the Scottish Government to act now using existing powers to stop this unnecessary and unwelcome industry. Energy Minister Fergus Ewing’s statement to the Scottish Parliament this week 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.

“Today’s debate and vote showed the cross party concern about the Coalition’s approach to the fracking industry, but unfortunately not enough MPs were willing to vote to stop this new frontier of fossil fuels.

“It’s great news that SNP MPs voted and spoke up in favour of protecting communities and the environment from the unconventional gas and fracking industry. It was a surprise that Scottish Labour MPs seem to have mostly abstained, given the party’s new commitments over the weekend.

“It is now only a small step from the SNP’s stance at Westminster to the Scottish Government implementing a moratorium on unconventional gas and fracking while they fully examine the impacts of this industry on health, climate, and the environment, and address gaps in the regulatory framework. Even better, the Scottish Government should just ban this unnecessary industry altogether and focus on making the most of our abundant renewable energy resources.

“The number of MPs who spoke out against fracking today is a testament to the growing, passionate and informed opposition from community groups and concerned citizens. It is clear that fracking is fast becoming a toxic election issue.”

The debate on the Bill came on the same day that the influential UK Environmental Audit Committee published a damning report on the impacts of shale gas fracking.

Notes to Editors

1. Fergus Ewing will make a statement to the Scottish Parliament on strengthening the Scottish Government’s approach to unconventional gas this week. Friends of the Earth are encouraging people to email the First Minister to call for a ban or moratorium on all types of unconventional gas and fracking: http://foes.do/ban-fracking-fm

2. Our comment on the Environmental Audit Committee report is at: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/WM-enviro-cmte-fracking-report

3. Reaction to Scottish Labour’s announcement on Saturday: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/Scottish-Labour-fracking

4. Reaction to SNP MPs’ commitment to vote for a moratorium on fracking: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/SNP-fracking-vote

5. 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.