Scottish Government's Position on Fracking Remains Unclear

The Scottish Government have been accused of kicking the issue of fracking into the long grass.

Alex Salmond said recently: “I think fracking has a long way to go before it convinces populations across the country. Fracking in a heavily populated area is a totally different proposition from fracking elsewhere and I think the Scottish government is pursuing a wise policy on it.”

The government has been told that the technology is necessary to secure the future of the country’s energy industry, but it seems it will not make the conclusions of its own research known until after the general election.

The SNP’s Manifesto

The Scottish National Party's (SNP) manifesto released this week also fails to bring clarity to the SNP’s stance on fracking.

The manifesto, launched on Monday, had only one sentence dedicated to the topic of fracking. It said: “We will continue to support a moratorium on fracking.”

Elsewhere in the manifesto, however, the SNP show strong support for the oil and gas industry in underpinning the Scottish economy.

Nicola Sturgeon’s private meeting with INEOS Chairman Jim Ratcliffe, held on the same day as the announcement of the moratorium in January, further clouds the SNP’s overall position on fracking.

After this meeting, INEOS made a complete U-turn saying they now supported the moratorium, despite having been against it prior to the meeting.

However, it should be noted that the SNP's position on fracking is stronger than other main parties. The Lib Dems, Labour and Conservatives are all calling for a regulated industry while the Green Party is the only one to call for a full ban on shale gas development.

Campaigners and Fracking Companies Collide

At a more local level, INEOS’s public meetings have gone less smoothly. Consultations by INEOS in Stirlingshire last week saw their commitments to safety and environmental regulations laughed at as locals made their frustrations heard.

INEOS has organised a series of consultations like this one across Scotland, continuing until the end of April, in an effort to debate the case for shale gas extraction.

Despite the harsh reception INEOS has faced at some of their consultations, they are demonstrating a willingness to confront the public’s questions on fracking and make their position clear.

@benjameslucas

Photo: The Drum via Creative Commons