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Fracking permanently banned by the Scottish Government

The controversial gas extraction technique 'cannot and will not take place in Scotland'.

By STV News

Published 03 Oct 2017.

Fracking "cannot and will not take place in Scotland" after being banned.

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said the Scottish Government has outlawed the controversial gas extraction technique.

A moratorium barring the practice was put in place in January 2015 while the government consulted extensively and considered reports on its potential impact.

Wheelhouse said: "I can confirm the conclusion of the Scottish Government is that we will not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland.

"Fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland."

Wheelhouse said an immediate ban will be put in place and the Scottish Parliament's approval will be sought during a debate and vote following recess later this month.

He added the government would use planning regulations to extend the current moratorium "indefinitely", removing the need for legislation.

Wheelhouse said: "Let me be clear that the action is sufficient to effectively ban the development of unconventional oil and gas extraction in Scotland."

In 2016, a report for the Scottish Government found fracking would likely cause a number of environmental hazards and could pose a risk to workers' health.

The government's public consultation on the issue received more than 60,000 responses, with 99% opposed to fracking

Green MSP Alison Johnstone first proposed a ban on unconventional oil and gas extraction in 2014, bringing it to a vote in the Holyrood chamber where all other parties voted against it.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have since changed their views to oppose fracking.

Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns Mary Church welcomed the ban, saying: "This is a victory for the environment and for local communities fighting fracking.

"The Scottish Government's decision today to ban fracking will be warmly welcomed across the country and around the world.

"This is a huge win for the anti-fracking movement, particularly for those on the frontline of this dirty industry here in Scotland, who have been working for a ban these last six years."

Conservative MSP Dean Lockhart said the decision meant Scotland's economy was being "left behind" as reports show fracking could bring up to £4.6bn in additional GVA as well as thousands of jobs.

He said: "This much-needed economic boost and these jobs will now be created outside of Scotland, thanks to the SNP."

Trade union GMB's Scotland secretary Gary Smith accused the Scottish Government of being "dishonest and hypocritical", adding: "Scotland is importing a huge amount of shale gas from Trump's America.

"If the government wants to be consistent, it will now ban shale gas imports, threatening a huge number of job losses.

"The government has failed to explain where the two million households in Scotland using gas to heat their homes will get gas from in the future."

Labour's environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish called on the minister to back her private member's bill to enshrine the ban in legislation.

She said: "Extending the moratorium indefinitely, whilst welcome, is not as strong as a full legal ban and could be overturned at any point at the whim of a future minister.

"These proposals do not go far enough. They do not offer the protection that my Bill would."

Green MSP Mark Ruskell also called for legislation confirming the fracking ban, saying: "We don't have a ban in front of us.

"The Scottish Government today has merely extended its moratorium, a moratorium which is legally shaky and open to challenge by large companies such as Ineos."

Liam McArthur MSP, of the Lib Dems, said: "Scottish Liberal Democrats believe that opening up a whole new front of carbon-based fuels and energy production would do nothing to help meet Scotland's climate commitments.

"I therefore welcome this announcement of a ban on fracking.

"The Scottish Government may have taken the scenic route to get there but it is right to join the growing consensus in declaring that fracking has no place in Scotland."

Fracking firm Ineos described the decision as "a sad day for those of us who believe in evidence-led decision making".

Ineos Shale's operations director Tom Pickering said: "The Scottish Government has turned its back on a potential manufacturing and jobs renaissance and lessened Scottish academia's place in the world by ignoring its findings.

"Today's decision is a slight on the dedicated professionalism that Scottish workers have pioneered in the North Sea.

"We lead the world in exploration safety but I fear we will start to see large numbers of Scottish workers leaving the country to find work as the North Sea oil and gas industry continues to decline."