Government pledge on fracking debate

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Public consultation on whether Unconventional Oil and Gas (UOG) development should be allowed in Scotland will start in January.

The Scottish Government has put campaign groups for and against the controversial ‘fracking’ process on alert by publishing the findings of six research reports it will consider before deciding if drilling for coal bed methane ever goes ahead.

The consultation will launch in tandem with an update on the government’s draft Energy Strategy and Climate Change plan being published in early 2017 and expected to last four months.

An economic study by experts KPMG claims fracking could boost the Scottish economy by attracting £6.5 billion investment and creating more than 3000 jobs by 2062.

Angus MacDonald, SNP MSP for Falkirk East, has urged constituents to get involved.

He said: “We have seen through the extensive nature of the reports published that the Scottish Government is committed to an evidence based cautious approach. Anyone who has an opinion is able to scrutinise these reports, give that opinion and be listened to.

“I would encourage everyone in my constituency to be involved. The government needs as much information and evidence as possible from the public and stakeholders in order to make an informed decision.”

The moratorium on UOG put in place last January which prevents fracking in Scotland will remain during the public consultation process.

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The extensive package of research published will ensure the public has access to comprehensive evidence. These studies are an important contribution to the examination of the potential impacts of unconventional oil and gas technologies including fracking and coal bed methane extraction and underline the government’s precautionary, robust and evidence-based approach to UOG.”

Scottish Labour has launched a public consultation on a Bill to prevent fracking in Scotland.

Economy spokesman, Central Scotland MSP Richard Leonard, said: “We all know our area is right in the fracking firing line and for too long had a ‘sticking plaster’ solution and an SNP Government unwilling to show leadership.

“This Bill is about our future, the air we breath and the water we drink. The evidence is clear, we do not need another fossil fuel adding to the pollution in our enviroment and contributing to climate change.”

The public can respond to the consultation by going to http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/Fracking. The consultation will run to February 17 next year.