Tom Greatrex MP, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister and MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, commenting on news that the Government will not issue new licenses for onshore oil and gas extraction in Scotland, said:
“After months of pressure, the Government have finally given way to Scottish Labour’s demands that it respect the findings of the Smith Commission and suspend any new fracking licenses in Scotland. Only last month, the Government voted against a Scottish Labour amendment to devolve licensing to Scotland – now they have U-turned and given way to Scottish Labour’s demands.
“Today’s news follows an earlier victory for Scottish Labour in which it ensured that changes to underground mineral access rights will only be made by Scottish Ministers, effectively devolving the responsibility in line with the all party Smith Agreement.
“Control over fracking in Scotland is already devolved to the Scottish Government thanks to their control of the planning and permitting regimes, although the SNP spent much of the past year trying to deny that responsibility. The additional devolution of licensing and mineral access rights simply brings coherence and clarity for the public about where exactly responsibility lies.
“In Scotland, Jim Murphy has also set out the triple-lock system to stop fracking. Under a Scottish Labour Government, there would be no fracking without a local referendum, until the lessons are learned from the rest of the UK and until there has been a comprehensive review of baseline conditions. These are concrete measures that introduce much tighter controls on shale gas activity than the SNP’s temporary moratorium.
“While eight out of 10 homes still rely on gas for heating, shale gas may have a role to play in displacing some of the gas we currently import and improving our energy security. But that potential benefit cannot come at the expense of robust environmental protections or our climate change commitments.”
Notes to Editors
Today’s announcement means that the 14th licensing round will no longer cover Scotland. A map of areas previously covered is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/337169/SEA_Licence_Prospect_On.pdf
Labour’s amendment to devolve licensing immediately was tabled to the Infrastructure Bill (NC2): http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2014-2015/0154/amend/pbc1542601m.pdf
Tory Minister Matt Hancock told the Scotsman today: “We agree in principle to their request that no new licences be awarded in Scotland as part of the 14th licensing round, and will consult with companies who have already applied before making a final decision.” http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/no-scots-fracking-licences-until-powers-devolved-1-3702337