In January 2015 the Scottish Government imposed a moratorium on
onshore unconventional oil and gas (UOG)
development in Scotland. This includes hydraulic fracturing for
shale oil and gas, commonly known as fracking, and coal bed methane
extraction. The moratorium was to remain in place until further
evidence of the potential environmental, health and economic
impacts of these technologies had been gathered and an
"evidence-based" decision could properly be made. The
Scottish Government noted that reserves are located predominantly
in Scotland's densely-populated central belt.
The Scottish Government commissioned research into the evidence
relating to six UOG impacts: economic impact; climate change
impact; induced seismic activity; transport impact;
decommissioning, site restoration and aftercare; and health impact,
with the research reports published in November
The consultation does not set out a preferred Scottish
Government position but seeks the views of the public and
stakeholders on the findings of this and other research and whether
UOG development should be permitted in Scotland.
UOG development remains controversial and politically
contentious. In June 2016 the Scottish Parliament passed a
non-binding motion calling for an outright ban on fracking, albeit
with Scottish Government MSPs abstaining from the vote in light of
the ongoing research programme and future consultation. It seems
likely that consultation responses will reflect already entrenched
positions on the subject.
The consultation closes on 31 May 2017. The Scottish Government
will then review the responses and evidence and ask the Scottish
Parliament to vote on its recommended approach. A final decision on
the future of UOG is expected by the end of 2017.
The material contained in this article is of the nature of
general comment only and does not give advice on any particular
matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information
in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice
upon their own particular circumstances.
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