The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Scotland Bans Fracking After 'Overwhelming' Public Opposition
By Simon Roach
Unlike in England, fracking has been under a temporary halt in Scotland since 2015, and an extensive public consultation on its long-term future was carried out earlier this year.
Speaking to members of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, the Scottish Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said the ban should be extended "indefinitely" and that "the Scottish government will not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland."
The proposed ban, which will make use of planning and environmental regulation powers devolved to Scotland from the UK government in London, will be put to the Scottish Parliament for a vote later this year. Campaigners expect the ban to successfully pass through this process.
In addition to a number of expert reports on the risks posed by fracking, the public consultation which closed in May found that around 99 percent of the 60,000 responses opposed fracking.
"The views expressed through our consultation demonstrated that communities across Scotland, particularly in densely populated areas where developments could potentially take place, are not convinced there is a strong national economic argument when balanced against the risk and disruption they anticipate in areas, such as transport, pollution, crucially, their health and wellbeing," Wheelhouse said.
The announcement was welcomed by green groups including WWF and Friends of the Earth Scotland who said that "the fracking industry must be banned to avoid potentially devastating impacts to people's health, the climate and our natural environment."
But Friends of the Earth Scotland urged the Scottish government to commit to passing a specific law to ban fracking, which would go beyond the proposed use of planning measures.
This will only be possible, however, when a set of further legislative powers already passed over to Scotland from London have gone through a technical transferral process.
The proposed use of planning powers is "the right interim approach," Friends of the Earth Scotland said in a statement, but "legislating to ban fracking provides the strongest protection for communities and the environment, and sends a clear message about the need to leave fossil fuels in the ground in the fight against climate change."
Fracking in Scotland
The Scottish government's proposal to ban fracking permanently follows a drawn-out passage of research and exploration into the potential for unconventional fossil fuel extraction in Scotland, alongside burgeoning campaigns against it.
Both England and Scotland are estimated to have modest amounts of exploitable shale gas—though less than in the U.S., whose use of shale gas for its own energy security has often been touted as a model by pro-fracking voices.
In June 2014, the British Geological Survey estimated there was 80 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in central Scotland, which was less than in areas of dense shale rock in England.
The engineering company Ineos subsequently announced exploration plans for Scottish shale gas later that year. But following growing public opposition to fracking, the Scottish government announced a temporary ban using planning powers in January 2015.
The Scottish government has a track record for opposing unconventional fossil fuels. Last year it banned another controversial process of extracting onshore underground gas called underground coal gasification. Similar to fracking, this followed widespread public opposition and independent findings of "serious environmental risks."
In June 2016 the Scottish Parliament voted in favor of extending the temporary ban, though this was non-legislative and the government insisted that proper research and consultation should be carried out before a final decision was taken.
The situation in England has been very different, with the UK government continuing to issue exploration and drilling licenses. The Conservatives are the only party to support fracking.
Shale gas company Cuadrilla is currently in conducting exploratory drilling in Lancashire in the face of staunch public opposition. The company was only able to begin its operations at Preston New Road, in between Blackpool and Preston, after the Communities Secretary overruled the local council's opposition to the activity.
Reposted with permission from our media associate DeSmogUk.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Judge Blocks Oil and Gas Drilling on 300,000 Acres in Wyoming Until Government Considers Climate Impacts
Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.