COTTISH environmental campaigners welcomed yesterday the Holyrood government’s opposition to Westminster plans to make fracking easier — and demanded a complete ban on gas drilling.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said he would object to proposals by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change that would remove the right of people to object to fracking companies drilling below their homes.
“The gung-ho approach of the UK government to the whole issue of unconventional oil and gas — often without any consultation with the Scottish government at all — contrasts with our approach,” said Mr Ewing.
The proposed change gives companies the right to drill to depths of 300 metres or more under private land without negotiating a right of access.
Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said Mr Ewing’s objection was “a good step” but called on Scottish ministers to consider the use of existing regulations to “ban unconventional gas completely.
“Communities such as Airth near Falkirk and Canonbie in Dumfries and Galloway are already facing a battle against gas drilling,” he said.
“Given the Scottish government’s failure to support a ban on fracking or clear buffer zones and the First Minister’s description of shale gas as an opportunity, many other communities across Scotland will remain deeply concerned at these unwanted, unnecessary developments.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon said the Scottish government’s “more cautious approach” to unconventional gas extraction was “good news for the people of Scotland and bad news for any operators hoping to make a quick buck before the shale bubble bursts.”
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Scottish ministers should stick to their renewable path and take steps to ensure shale gas and other unconventional fossil fuels remain unburnt.”