I was pleased to join with campaigners from Scotland Against Fracking, the Broad Alliance, WWF Scotland and Friends of the Earth Scotland outside the Scottish Parliament today calling for support from the Parliament to end fracking in Scotland.
I supported the Government motion which due to a Labour amendment effectively bans fracking from taking place in Scotland.
The motion passed by Parliament, with amendments from Labour, the Greens and the Lib Dems was as follows:
That the Parliament agrees with the Scottish Government’s position of not supporting the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland; endorses the government’s decision to introduce an immediate and effective ban on onshore unconventional oil and gas developments using its devolved powers in line with the Scottish Ministers’ statutory responsibilities; notes that this position will be subject to a strategic environmental assessment before being finalised; agrees that the finalised energy policy on this should be reflected within the next iteration of the National Planning Framework, which is subject to consideration by Parliament prior to its adoption; supports the robust further development of renewables; commits to actively exploring and supporting public, municipal co-operative and community models of ownership in this sector; agrees that the Scottish Government’s position should be included in the Energy Strategy, in addition to its incorporation in the next National Planning Framework; further agrees that licensing powers for onshore oil and gas should be transferred immediately to the Scottish Parliament from the UK Government and utilised in a way that is compatible with the Parliament’s view on unconventional oil and gas development; considers that the focus for the future must be on renewables, establishing sustainable energy supplies and creating green jobs, and believes that opening up a whole new front of carbon-based fuels would be a distraction and divert investment and research away from green technologies.
It is thanks to the Labour amendment from my colleague Claudia Beamish that it is ensured that the ban cannot be overturned without a full parliamentary vote. Her hard work and dedication has pushed the government continually to listen to the case against fracking.
The main concerns often raised with me are that the fracking industry uses toxic chemicals many of which are said to be harmful to humans, animals and the environment. There are also concerns that the industry is linked to water, air and soil pollution and some very serious public health impacts.
Friends of the Earth Scotland have said that residents near fracking sites have reported symptoms of respiratory problems, nausea, rashes and headaches. A number of studies point to gas extraction affecting the weight and health of babies born close to fracking sites, and cancer causing chemicals have been found in waste fluids.
It is thanks to the dedication of hard working individuals in communities across Scotland that have stood up against fracking that the ban has been put through today. This is a victory for community activists protecting their environments.