Fracking u-turn exposes government policy ‘incompetency’

A government u-turn has exposed the ‘incompetency’ of SNP policy on controversial fracking , Lesley Laird MP has claimed.

At the Court of Session yesterday (Tuesday) government lawyer James Mure QC dismissed a legal bid by Ineos to overturn the government’s fracking ‘ban’, stating any concept of a ban “was gloss” and “the language of a press statement.”

Instead the government had a “preferred position on the issue” and ministers were due to make a final decision in October.

However, Lesley laird MP said the surprise u-turn revealed previous pledges had been mere spin – and raised serious questions about the Scottish Government’s commitment to communities.

She said: “Yet again here is a policy which is being made up on the hoof. Fit for an election leaflet but not fit for purpose.”

Hydraulic fracturing – known as fracking – involves drilling deep underground and fracturing shale rocks with high pressure water which in turn releases gas.

Cluff Natural Resources was previously granted a licence by the Coal Authority for an Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) project which aimed to extract an estimated 335 million tonnes of coal under the Firth of Forth.

However, the company pulled funding for the project when, in 2015, the Scottish Government announced a moratorium on all unconventional oil and gas developments to enable further research and consultation.

Lesley Laird, in her former role as deputy leader of Fife Council, campaigned against fracking in Fife and called on the government to make good on its pledge by ensuring elected representatives and local communities were “fully engaged” in decisions shaping the local area.

Last year the Scottish Government extended the moratorium indefinitely on the grounds there was “overwhelming” public opposition to fracking.

Reacting to events yesterday, Lesley Laird commented: “Communities across Scotland will be concerned that when brought under the light of legal scrutiny Nicola Sturgeon’s commitment to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish people is not competent.

“The question that must be answered now is where does that leave communities, especially those in Fife likely to be most impacted by unconventional energy?”

She added: “What must be done now to fulfil the SNP Government commitment, and what are the time scales for delivering on their promise?”

Pic courtesy: Friends of the Earth Scotland

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