Ahead of today's statement (Wed 28 Jan) from the Energy Minister on fracking and other forms of unconventional gas extraction, Scottish Green MSPs are calling for a vote at Holyrood in an effort to force the UK Government to suspend its plans to award licenses to drilling firms.

A Scottish Green petition calling on the UK Government to halt the imminent awarding of licenses to frack for gas across Scotland has achieved over 5,700 signatures since being launched last week. In recent days the SNP and Labour have indicated that they agree that licenses should not be awarded as this power is due to be devolved to Scotland.

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone, who spoke at an anti-fracking rally at Grangemouth at the weekend, said:

"The huge public support we've had for our principled stance has clearly put pressure on the other parties. In recent days we've seen Labour attempt to change their position, and now the energy minister is expected to make the SNP's position clearer.

"The SNP and Labour voted against a ban during our debate last year but at least they appear to agree with us that Scotland should decide on licensing. If Holyrood were to vote on this, it would make the strongest case yet to the UK Government.

"The communities around the central belt I've been speaking to in recent months are rightly concerned about unconventional gas extraction. They can be assured of Green support every step of the way."

Scottish Green MSPs Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone have been campaigning against unconventional gas extraction since the 2011 election. As well as proposing a ban, they have urged ministers to provide funding for local authorities to develop robust policies to handle any fracking applications.


Scottish Greens' fracking petition to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Alison's latest motion, welcoming the SNP and Labour appearing to change their positions and calling for the licensing process to be suspended, reads:

"That the Parliament notes the proposals to devolve onshore oil and gas licensing; understands that the 14th licensing round for onshore oil and gas extraction covered large areas of central Scotland; welcomes the recent comments from SNP and Scottish Labour politicians indicating what it sees as their clear opposition to the issuing of licences for fracking and other unconventional gas developments prior to the power to do so being devolved; believes that there is overwhelming opposition in the Parliament to these licences and that if they were issued by the UK Government it would render the additional power worthless and demonstrate contempt for the Smith Commission process, and urges the UK Government to suspend the process until the power to issue these licences is devolved."

See which MSPs have signed it here