The Scottish government’s announcement today that that there will be a moratorium on fracking has been met with mixed reactions from the other political parties.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced that there would be a moratorium whilst further research and a public consultation is carried out.
The announcement comes days after the UK government voted against a moratorium.
Mr Ewing said: “This moratorium will continue until such time as the work I have set out to Parliament today, including a full public consultation, is completed.
“The Scottish Government has taken a cautious, considered and evidence-based approach to unconventional oil and gas and fracking.
“We should never close our minds to the potential opportunities of new technologies – but we must also ensure that community, environmental and health concerns are never simply brushed aside. This government will not allow that to happen and I hope the actions I have announced today will be widely welcomed as proportionate and responsible.”
The Scottish Conservatives opposed the move, claiming it is a backwards step for the manufacturing and energy industries in Scotland.
Scottish Conservative Spokesman on Energy Murdo Fraser MSP said: “Today’s announcement from Fergus Ewing is completely out of step with both scientific evidence and what businesses and consumers across Scotland need and want.
“The Scottish Government’s own expert scientific panel played down the risk of earthquakes and other environmental concerns yet here we have the Energy Minister posturing to avoid being outflanked by Labour.
“It was just over a year since Parties from across the chamber united to save thousands of jobs at Grangemouth and yesterday Ineos Chief Executive Tom Crotty reaffirmed their need for a domestic shale gas industry.
“The Scottish Government needs to stop playing politics and start thinking about the long-term economic consequences of blocking an industry with the potential to create jobs, reduce emissions and increase our security of supply.”
Scottish Green MSPs welcomed the new position but are warning that it still falls short of full ban.
Scottish Green MSPs Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone have been campaigning against unconventional gas extraction since the 2011 election.
Alison Johnstone MSP said: “A year ago the First Minister said shale gas was an undoubted opportunity; today the Energy Minister announced a pause but asks us not to rule it out. It is clear that the sustained pressure we’ve been putting on the Scottish Government has paid off, but we do not intend to rest here.
“The SNP and Labour voted against a ban last year when I led the Scottish Parliament’s first debate on fracking. While a delay to allow for further research is a welcome step, it remains a worry that neither SNP ministers nor Labour are talking about ruling it out.
“Leaving the door ajar to a new wave of fossil fuels is incompatible with our climate change ambitions and risks diverting attention and investment from the undoubted opportunity we have to pursue clean technology and energy efficiency.”
WWF Scotland also cautiously welcomed the moratorium.
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to impose the UK’s first moratorium on onshore unconventional oil and gas, but this doesn’t yet fully shut the door long-term on new fossil fuel extraction.
“There is over whelming public opinion in favour of cleaner forms of energy and a sufficient body of evidence why unconventional oil and gas are neither good for people or the planet. While this rightly puts a hold on fracking for now, we hope the final decision will be to rule it out completely.
“The climate science is clear, the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground and not burned. Scotland should instead be playing to its natural advantages in clean, green renewable energy.”