A Fife MSP has warned that the Scottish Government must not allow a decision on the future of fracking to be “kicked into the long grass.”
Claire Baker welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to include underground coal gasification (UCG) in its fracking moratorium. Ms Baker revealed the loophole in the existing moratorium on fracking, which would have allowed UCG to go ahead in January, and she has been campaigning to have it closed since.
However, she has now raised concerns that the final decision won’t be made until at least 2017, fearing it may be kicked into the long grass.
“By delaying the consultation until the end of 2016 the SNP is trying to get through their party conference and the Scottish election without making a decision. We need to ensure the public, not just Algy Cluff and INEOS, have a say in fracking and UCG,” she said.
Fellow Fife MSP David Torrance also welcomed the extension of the moratorium, commenting: “The issue of UCG is of great importance here in Fife and I know that this announcement will be welcomed by a large number of my constituents.
“I am opposed to UCG and welcome the cautious, evidence-based approach by the Scottish Government.”
And Fife council’s Depute Leader and Executive Spokesperson Economy and Planning Cllr Lesley Laird called for more information: “This announcement is a step in the right direction. But the devil will be in the detail, and I look forward to more information. Fife Council strongly urges individuals and communities to engage with this process so that we are fully informed about the best way forward for Fife.
“As Fife is one of the local authority areas likely to be most impacted by unconventional energy, it is absolutely crucial that elected representatives, local communities and businesses are engaged in decisions that will shape their local area,” she urged.
But Algy Cluff, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cluff Natural Resources who are spearheading the drive toward UCG in the Forth urged the Scottish Government to: “reach a positive conclusion on the potential of UCG as quickly as possible, allowing Scotland to become a world leader in this exciting and lucrative area.”
He continued: “There has been a prolonged period of political uncertainty around the Scottish Government’s position on UCG. Both next week’s SNP conference and next May’s Holyrood election have clearly played their part in creating this difficult political climate. As a consequence, in our interim statement to shareholders in August, we announced our intention to hold further investment until the picture was clearer.”
A “Hands Over Our Forth” demonstration against fracking is scheduled to take place at the Forth Road Bridge this weekend.