Long before I stood for election I opposed fracking and I’ve been very pleased to be able to coordinate opposition over the past couple of years.
So you’ll not be surprised to hear that I am delighted by the announcement that has just been made by Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy, in the Scottish Parliament.
Fracking will have no place in Scotland’s energy mix.
Let me say that again. The SNP Scottish Government have concluded that they cannot support the development of unconventional oil and gas extraction in our country. There will be no fracking in Scotland.
The minister has written to Local Authorities to keep in place the moratorium measures indefinitely. As a result, fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland. I’ll happily keep repeating that!
There were over 60,000 responses to the fracking consultation. And less than 1% of them were in favour of this technology. Many of those responding to raise their concerns were people living in Edinburgh East so I’m sure this news will be welcome both in the constituency and across the country.
Some will ask why there isn’t going to be a bill. Well, that’s because you legislate on things you are doing, not on things you aren’t going to do. And the Scottish Government doesn’t need to legislate to stop fracking.
As it happens, we don’t have the licensing powers yet to ban it through that route (despite being promised them) and these powers are on the list to be repatriated to Westminster after Brexit. This is important but the planning powers alone mean that we can keep fracking out of Scotland regardless of what Westminster dictates to us.
Congratulations to all those who have campaigned for this – many of whom I have worked with in the past few year.
There will now be a full debate and vote on the Scottish Government’s position after recess. The people have spoken and the Scottish Government has listened.
Four weeks ago I was worried about writing this column on the eve of the last major parliamentary debate on Brexit. Anything could have happened, rendering my speculation obsolete by the time you read it. I shouldn’t have fretted. Anything could have happened but nothing did.
Here I am again. Groundhog day. It’s Tuesday. There’s a big debate tomorrow.
Tuesday. Another day spent discussing Brexit. Another day of my life I’m not getting back.
We are no further forward. As the clock ticks down to exit it’s only fair to ask: What the hell is Theresa May playing at?