The Scottish Government on Tuesday said no to the development of unconventional oil and gas, replacing the current moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the country to a ban, Kallanish Energy reports.
As expected, the decision announced by Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse was welcomed by environmentalist groups and criticised by the industry. In the public consultation launched by the government in January 2017 with 99% of the responses opposed to fracking out of over 60,000 responses.
“Having taken account of the interests of the environment, our economy, public health and the overwhelming majority of public opinion, the decision I am announcing today means fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland,” said Wheelhouse.
He added communities across Scotland aren’t convinced there’s a strong national economic argument when balanced against “the risk and disruption they anticipate in areas, such as transport, pollution, crucially their health and well being.”
“It’s excellent news the Scottish Government has listened to the thousands of people, campaigners, and politicians across the country who have been calling for a permanent ban to fracking,” commented Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland. “The climate science is clear. The vast majority of fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground. It’s fantastic Scottish ministers agree that we need to start placing them off limits.”
However, onshore oil-and-gas producers trade body, UKOOG, argues the Scottish government is neglecting the environmental impact importing gas will have instead of a domestic production.
“The reality is that it’s better for the planet to be producing our gas here rather than shipping it in across oceans from elsewhere, especially when Scotland has a petrochemicals industry so reliant on natural gas,” said CEO Ken Cronin.
He noted natural gas meets 78% of Scotland’s heating needs and 43% of its industry. The alternative to Scottish shale gas is importing significant volumes from overseas, Cronin said, noting that having 80% of heating coming from low-carbon sources by 2032 is very unlikely to be feasible.