Scotland's fracking moratorium

Scotland’s fracking moratorium

At a couple of our recent meetings outside Scotland, the issue of where Scotland stands on fracking came up. We’ll email members a short note on this, but for general readers of this site here are a few simple references which can be read quickly and will help with further references which go into more detail.

First, in 2014, the Scottish government issued a report by an expert panel it had commissioned to look into the issue of fracking. Then, in 2015 the Scottish Government instigated a fracking moratorium to last until 2017.

In 2016, the Scottish Parliament voted for a full fracking ban. Outside Scotland, there is sometimes confusion about this. The Scottish parliament vote was not binding on the government and had a relatively small turnout. Although it showed opposition to fracking inside the Scottish parliament, this was amongst the opposition parties only. The government-side Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) abstained on the basis that the study the government moratorium had been created for was underway and it would undermine any study to take part in such a vote.

At present, the Scottish government continues to study and monitor the situation and it seems likely it will announce its ongoing policy sometime in 2017. In political terms, the smaller parties – Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Greens all oppose fracking outright, the second largest party – The Conservatives – support fracking. With the Scottish National Party, the party of government, holding almost half of the seats in the Scottish parliament its eventual decision is virtually certain to be carried by the parliament itself.

Scotland relies on the oil and gas sectors, including refining, for thousands of high-skill jobs. Ineos, which employs several thousand workers at Grangemouth, owns most Scottish site licences for the possible application of underground gasification technology.