Contributed from Victoria
Scotland’s government has listened to the overwhelming opposition to coal seam gas extraction (fracking) and has effectively banned it.
The decision comes after a period of public consultations that received more than 60,000 responses, with 99 percent of them supporting the banning of the practice, due to concerns of damage to health and the environment.
In doing so, the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) government has come under fire from fracking companies, some industry bodies and the Conservatives for damaging Scotland’s economy and sacrificing jobs.
Labour and the Greens argue that it does not go far enough and that specific legislation is needed.
Gary Smith, the GMB union’s Scotland secretary, has called for the banning of coal seam gas imports from the United States, suggesting that a failure to do so would by “dishonest and Hypocritical”.
Given that there has been a ban since January 2015, the government is seeking support for its indefinite extension from the Scottish parliament, which it sees as imposing a permanent ban through administrative means. The advantage of an administrative ban is that it can be enforced immediately and it does not preclude later legislation.
Environmentalist organisations have praised the move.
Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns Mary Church said: “This is a huge win for the anti-fracking movement, particularly for those on the frontline of this dirty industry here in Scotland, who have been working for a ban these last six years.”
She said the ban would “avoid potentially devastating impacts to people’s health, the climate and our natural environment”.
Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, added: “It’s excellent news the Scottish government has listened to the thousands of people, campaigners, and politicians across the country who have been calling for a permanent ban to fracking.
“The climate science is clear. The vast majority of fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground.”