Trade body condemns Scottish Labour fracking ban proposal

Representative group UK Onshore Oil and Gas has hit back at a decision by Scottish Labour to propose a members’ bill to ban fracking in the country.

Claudia Beamish, Labour’s environment spokesperson in the Scottish parliament, launched a public consultation today (4 November) in a bid to ban the process north of the border.

UKOOG chief executive Ken Cronin said: “We find it hard to understand why Labour, a party set up to represent ordinary working people, would not want to work with the industry to create jobs, provide significant benefits to our communities, improve our energy security and find solutions to our future heating and other energy needs rather than introducing a bill which is clearly politically designed to set one party against another.

“The process set out by the Scottish government to have a research phase and then a public consultation was welcomed by all sides in the debate. Scotland is the birth place of oil and gas exploration onshore which has been conducted safely for many decades under a strict regulatory regime.

“Four out of five Scottish households use gas for heating and thousands of jobs are sustained by taking gas and making it into products that we all use every day. The climate change impact of exporting our gas needs from countries that have much lower environmental and human rights record rather than producing our own is quite clear.”

In her consultation document, Beamish wrote: “My reasons for proposing a ban on [unconventional oil and gas extraction] are specific and evidence based. They are principally about the imperative need to tackle climate change.”

She added: “My proposed member’s bill puts forward an alternative path for consideration and scrutiny. Taking account of both the Scottish and global contexts, I am clear that it would not be appropriate to allow another form of oil and gas extraction here in Scotland.”

The announcement has come on the same day as the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change is ratified.

In June, the Scottish parliament voted in favour of a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the country. The motion was passed by 32 votes to 29. Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens joined forces to defeat the Tories after the SNP’s members abstained. However, the motion is not binding on the government.

Beamish, who tabled the motion, said at the time: “The SNP government must now clarify whether or not they will respect the will of parliament and introduce an outright ban on fracking. It would be outrageous for this important vote to be ignored.

“There is no doubt about the science – to meet our climate change goals and protect our environment we need to develop low carbon sources of energy, not another fossil fuel. Labour’s position is clear: no ifs, no buts, no fracking.”

A moratorium on fracking has been in place in Scotland since January last year, whilst a public consultation takes place.