Nicola Sturgeon: Fracking will be banned in Scotland, end of story
The First Minister said there would be no fracking in Scotland and she could not make the position any clearer.
Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that fracking is being banned in Scotland “end of story” as she made her personal opposition to the practice clear.
The First Minister had previously said she was “highly sceptical” about the process.
After Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse announced on Tuesday that the Scottish Government would extend its moratorium into a permanent ban, the SNP leader told MSPs she did not believe it should be permitted.
Ms Sturgeon made her views clear after Green MSP Mark Ruskell challenged Holyrood ministers to go further and “get this ban properly over the line” by legislating to outlaw hydraulic fracturing.
The controversial procedure involves injecting water at high pressure into shale formations, fracturing the rock and allowing natural gas to flow out, with opponents raising environmental and health concerns.
Supporters, including the Scottish Conservatives, highlight the economic opportunities fracking could bring to Scotland, where the North Sea oil and gas sector is in decline. But the SNP move was also backed widely, including by Friends Of The Earth and Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo.
Mr Ruskell said while the announcement of the ban had “rightly been met with some celebration across Scotland” he added that there were “concerns from communities and many SNP members that the ban is not yet legally watertight as it merely extends a temporary break on planning decisions”.
Raising the issue at First Minister’s Questions, he called on Ms Sturgeon to commit to using new licensing powers when they are devolved to Holyrood.
But Ms Sturgeon was adamant that was not necessary, insisting the Scottish Government proposal to use planning regulations to extend the current moratorium “indefinitely” was the quickest and most effective way of taking action.
She told MSPs: “Of course the ban on new nuclear energy in Scotland is also done through planning powers, that is exactly what we are proposing with the ban on fracking.
“To some ears it will sound as though some members are dancing on the head of a pin here. Fracking is being banned in Scotland, end of story. There will be no fracking in Scotland. I don’t think that position could be any clearer.”
Ms Sturgeon continued: “What Paul Wheelhouse outlined to this chamber earlier this week is an effective way of banning fracking, as the precedent of nuclear energy demonstrates.
“It is also the quickest way of banning fracking. And I think that those who like me who do not believe fracking should go ahead in Scotland, instead of continuing to have this abstract argument should just welcome the fact that fracking in Scotland is banned.”
When he made the announcement at Holyrood Mr Wheelhouse said he was clear the action the Government was taking was “sufficient to effectively ban the development of unconventional oil and gas extraction in Scotland”.