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Labour to bring forward Bill to ban fracking in Scotland

Environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish said “the people of Scotland do not want it and our environment does not need it”.

Labour is to bring forward a Bill aimed at banning fracking in Scotland.

The Scottish Government introduced a moratorium barring the controversial method of extracting gas in January 2015, but ministers have still to decide if this should be made permanent.

Labour environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish will announce today that she will press ahead with a Member’s Bill that would outlaw it.

She said: “The SNP has repeatedly failed to ban on-shore fracking in Scotland – so Labour will do it.”

Ms Beamish added: “The climate science is irrefutable. Scotland does not need a new fossil fuel as we shift towards a low carbon economy.

“People across Scotland are also rightly concerned about the potential health implications of unconventional oil and gas extraction. This is about Scotland’s future, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the condition we leave our planet in for our children and our grandchildren.”

In June 2016 MSPs at Holyrood voted in favour of a Labour motion calling for an outright ban on fracking.

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said at the time that the vote “will not deflect Government” from its current policy, which is to maintain the moratorium on fracking until it has canvassed expert and public opinion.

Environmental campaigners at Friends of the Earth Scotland congratulated Ms Beamish on winning cross-party support for her Bill.

Director Richard Dixon said: “If the Scottish Government decide to propose a ban on fracking it needs to be a permanent ban in law, not just a ban in policy, and Scottish Labour are keeping up the pressure to make sure Scotland does the right thing and outlaws these new fossil fuels forever.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government has undertaken one of the world’s most wide ranging investigations into unconventional oil and gas, in light of the fact that many of the areas that have been identified by UK Government as having potential for ‘fracking’ are situated under the most populated area of Scotland, the Central Belt.

“The Scottish Government has put in place a moratorium on ‘fracking’ which means no projects can currently take place here.

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Protesters take part in an anti-fracking demonstration outside the SNP conference in 2013 (David Cheskin/PA)

“The Scottish Government, reflecting widespread public concerns, have also taken a cautious and evidence-led approach to examining potential impacts of the activity. And the Scottish Government, following publication of independent research, has also given everyone with an interest in this important subject the opportunity to express their views via our four-month consultation, which closed on May 31.

“We have received around 60,000 responses – a very clear demonstration of the value of the strong public interest and our participative approach.

“We have said all along that the people of Scotland must have their say, and those who took the time to take part in our consultation deserve to be heard.

“That’s why a decision on the future of unconventional oil and gas will only be made after the responses to our consultation have been independently analysed, published and the Scottish Parliament has had an opportunity to vote on the recommendation we will make on whether this should be allowed in Scotland.”

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