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Scotland announces fracking moratorium

fracking moratorium

Scotland blocks fracking to assess environmental and health impacts. Creative Commons: Lock the Gate Alliance, 2011

The Scottish government has announced a moratorium on fracking as ministers further examine the environment and health implications of the controversial drilling technique.

Campaigners have welcomed the move as “a very big nail in the coffin for the unconventional and fracking industry” in the country.

They are now calling for a full ban on the industry in Scotland.

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

Any serious examination of the mounting evidence will inevitably lead to a ban. The Scottish government has acted decisively to protect communities across the country and the environment from this necessary industry.

The decision is a testament to the perseverance of people and communities around the country who have tirelessly fought this industry in recent years… Scotland joins France, Ireland, the Netherlands and New York State in a long list of countries and regions which have acted to stop the unconventional gas industry.

The moratorium, announced on Wednesday by Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing, will allow time for the government to launch a full public consultation on the drilling technique and commission a public health impact assessment.

Full control over fracking is due to be devolved to Scotland after May’s general election.

In the meantime, consent for the controversial techniques will be refused on planning grounds.

Public opposition for fracking has gained momentum over the past six month, and gained a high profile during this summer’s independence referendum campaign.

An online poll by Usurv showed that across the UK, Scots were the most likely to oppose shale gas exploration. 54% of those surveyed said they were against the practice, and less than 8% were happy for it to happen elsewhere.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said with such support for renewable energy, the moratorium on fracking in Scotland should become an outright ban.

There is overwhelming public opinion in favour of cleaner forms of energy and a sufficient body of evidence why unconventional oil and gas are neither good for people or the planet. While this rightly puts a hold on fracking for now, we hope the final decision will be to rule it out completely.

Last year, Scotland saw a massive year for renewables. In December 2014 wind turbines alone provided around 1,279 MWh of electricity to the National grid, enough to supply the electrical needs of 164% of Scottish households, or 3.96 million homes.

This week’s fracking ban comes just days after Westminster MPs defeated a similar attempt to impose a UK-wide moratorium on fracking.

In a vote in Parliament, however, ministers did support several proposals to tighten the regulation of shale development.

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