DRAFT DEVO CLAUSES SHOW NEED TO HALT FRACKING DECISIONS
The Scottish Greens say that while the command paper on devolution produced by the UK Government today (22 Jan) appears to match many of the Smith Commission recommendations, it still falls short of many people's expectations.
And the Greens are highlighting one area where UK Government action threatens
to render new powers worthless before they are devolved.
The Smith Commission agreed to devolve to Scottish Ministers the current
regime for the licencing of exploration and extraction of onshore oil and gas.
This could take years; meanwhile licencing affecting the entire Scottish
Central Belt is already being pursued by the UK Government's Department for
Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
A Scottish Green petition calling on DECC to halt licencing while the power is
devolved has achieved over 5,000 signatures since being launched on Monday (19
Jan). Opinion polling shows most Scots oppose fracking, and most want
decisions over licencing devolved.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
"If the UK Government has a shred of decency it must put decisions about
fracking and similar techniques on hold immediately, until the Scottish
Parliament has the power to act. To hand swathes of Scotland over to the
fracking industry would demonstrate utter contempt for the promise to
implement the Smith proposals.
"These draft clauses will only become law after the UK election, and the
current UK Government can claim no mandate to give the green light to fracking
"We know that this is going to be an election like no other with smaller
parties potentially holding the balance. It is therefore vital to have more
Green voices at Westminster to challenge all those who want to see one more
roll of the fossil fuel dice.
"We will of course subject the devolution process to close scrutiny in
Holyrood's devolution committee which my colleague Alison Johnstone sits on,
and on the Energy Committee I will continue to press the Scottish Government
to act against fracking with whatever powers it has open to it."
Scottish Green Party Co-conveners Patrick Harvie MSP and councillor Maggie
Chapman took part in the cross-party Smith negotiations, securing agreement on
proposals including devolution of fracking licences, energy company
obligations and the power to bring railways back into public ownership.