The Scottish government has said that it will ban fracking due to overwhelming public opposition to the controversial gas extraction method. Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse told members of the Scottish Parliament that a moratorium on fracking that was put in place in 2015 will be extended indefinitely after a public consultation found that 99 percent of respondents opposed the development of hydraulic fracturing. “Let me be clear that the action is sufficient to effectively ban the development of unconventional oil and gas extraction in Scotland,” Mr Wheelhouse said. “The decision that I am announcing today means that fracking cannot, and will not take place in Scotland,” he added.
Adding to the public opposition based on health and environmental grounds, a study by the consultancy firm KPMG found that fracking would only add 0.1 percent to Scotland’s GDP if it were developed. Mr Wheelhouse also pointed to a report by the Committee on Climate Change which concluded that if fracking were to be allowed it would make it “more challenging” for Scotland to meet the carbon emissions reduction targets set out under the Paris Climate Agreement. With moratoriums in place in Wales and Northern Ireland, it leaves England as the only country in the UK where the practice is still legal. It is also outlawed in the Republic of Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and some US states.
Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to split the rocks beneath and release natural gas trapped within their layers. Campaigners argue that the chemicals used in the process pollute drinking water and that the drilling can cause earthquakes.
Tom Pickering, the director of operations for Ineos’ shale gas arm said the decision “beggars belief.”
“It is a sad day for those of us who believe in evidence-led decision making,” he said
The decision was welcomed by environmental campaigners throughout the UK. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper Prof Stuart Haszeldine, an expert in carbon capture and storage at the University of Edinburgh said: “The consultation replies from citizens show they are very clearly prepared to forgo the doubtful possibility of short-term financial gain for the longer-term benefits of moving to a cleaner economy and air quality.”
“This is continuing the decline of fossil fuels, and moving to a different sort of wealth,” Haszeldine said.