Elected members from Falkirk assured residents no fracking would take place in Scotland after their own party decided to extend a firm’s licence to carry out the process locally.
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald joined Falkirk MP John McNally and Linlithgow and East Falkirk MP Martyn Day in writing to Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse urging the government not to renew PEDL 162.
This licence, which covers some 400km2 of the Falkirk and Central Scotland area for onshore drilling, was initially granted by the UK Government back in 2014.
But despite their combined plea and the objections from community councils throughout the area, the licence was given a 12 month extension.
Mr MacDonald said: “Fracking is not taking place in Scotland and the Scottish Government is working towards ensuring the assessments, required by law, are completed which will then confirm the policy position of not supporting the development of a UOG industry in Scotland.
“I understand the frustrations of my constituents and those who have voiced their opposition to these practices to me, but would ask the Scottish Government is allowed to continue the work it has started to ensure a cast iron guarantee that, just as fracking is not taking place at the present, it is not allowed to take place in the future.”
Mr McNally added: “It was the SNP who introduced a moratorium on fracking and there has been no change in the Scottish Government’s position. This means no local authority can grant planning permission for any proposed fracking or coal bed methane project.”
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Mr Day has also been campaigning against fracking and confirmed the process would not be allowed to take place during the PEDL 162 extension period.
He said: “The licence has been extended for 12 months and fracking cannot take place – thanks to the actions of the Scottish Government which will continue to take action to make sure this is the case.”
The initial term of the onshore petroleum exploration and development licence, owned by Ineos and Reach CSG, was due to expire last month.
Mary Church, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Extending this licence risks adding to confusion caused by Ineos’s recent legal challenge and only increases the pressure on the Scottish Government to progress its decision making process, legislate to ban fracking and draw a line under this issue for good.
“It’s unlikely the operators will be able to do much to advance their shale gas ambitions in 12 months, but it’s an uncomfortable position for the Scottish Government to take given its opposition to fracking.”
Four years ago, when it was awarded the licence, Ineos stated it was one of the very few businesses that could use shale gas as both a fuel and petrochemical feedstock and the move towards fracking was a “logical step” which it was “very excited about”.