Scot Govt fracking moratorium extension a step in the right direction

The Scottish Greens have described today's announcement by the Scottish Government that the current temporary moratorium on fracking will be extended "indefinitely" as a step in the right direction.

But Green MSP Mark Ruskell warned that while pressure from Greens and concerned communities has succeeded in forcing an extension of the current planning moratorium, Scottish Ministers only spoke of "no social licence at this time" and did not commit to use environmental regulations and licensing powers to rule out the technology for good.

The Greens first proposed a ban on unconventional oil and gas extraction in 2014, bringing it to a vote in the Holyrood chamber but at that time other parties voted against it. A fresh vote on a Scottish Government motion is now expected later this month.

Since first proposing a ban in 2014, Green MSPs have successfully:

* Pressed for devolution of the power to award fracking licences
* Pressed for underground coal gasification to be included in the temporary moratorium
* Welcomed the shift in position from Labour and the Lib Dems to oppose fracking 
* Secured a commitment from the First Minister to reach a decision and bring a vote in Parliament this year

Mark Ruskell MSP, Energy and Environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:

"We welcome the Scottish Government’s clear intention to ban fracking. That is a victory for communities across Scotland and the wider green movement. 

"However, we are still a long way from turning a planning moratorium into a watertight ban that can resist legal challenge from powerful companies like INEOS. The Scottish Government must commit using a combination of powers over planning, environmental regulation and licensing to deliver a permanent ban. They must bring this back to the Scottish Parliament to be voted on after recess.

"Greens have opposed all forms of unconventional gas extraction from the start, and over the years we've stood with communities against the threat of dangerous and unnecessary drilling. Today we see a step in the right direction from a government that has sat on the fence long enough. The risks to public health, the safety of workers, and the damage to our reputation as a climate change leader have been clear all along.

"Greens have been leading this fight, with other parties changing their position when they saw the strength of public feeling."