Today Tom Greatrex, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister and MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, commented on the UK Governments support for Labour plans to devolve the remaining parts of the shale gas framework, to the Scottish Government.
Mr Greatrex stated that the Westminster Government have belatedly conceded to Scottish Labour amendments which will see the devolution of the remaining secondary parts of the framework for shale gas exploration in Scotland, implementing these parts of the Smith Agreement ahead of this year’s UK general election.
He went on to make clear that Whilst some in Holyrood would like to pretend that the Scottish Government is powerless to act over fracking, the truth is that already fracking cannot take place in Scotland without the approval of ministers in Edinburgh. Their control over the planning and permitting regime gives the SNP ultimate responsibility and an effective veto for shale gas extraction in Scotland. Therefore he stated that it makes sense for underground mineral access rights, which are essentially a secondary aspect of the planning process, to be devolved as well.
The changes announced today by, Amber Rudd MP, Minister at DECC mean that the UK Government will bring forward the amendment, as suggested by Scottish Labour, at the Report Stage of the Infrastructure Bill to exclude Scotland from changes being made to deep level land access. This will unambiguously give the full control over any future fracking projects in Scotland.
In light of this, it must once again be a priority for the Scottish Government to come forward with a clear policy stance on future fracking projects in Scotland. The SNP must use the powers that they have to address the concerns of those citizens who are still waiting for answers from their Government.