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FRACKING “MORATORIUM” SHOULD BE FULL LEGAL BAN, SAYS SOUTH SCOTLAND MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed the decision by the Scottish Government to extend “indefinitely” its moratorium on fracking- but believes the move doesn’t go far enough and should be backed up by a full legal ban.

The announcement of the extension of the moratorium was made today (3 October) in the Scottish Parliament by Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse following a recent public consultation where organisations including Dumfries and Galloway Council, Canonbie & District Residents Association and companies such as Cream O’Galloway all backed a ban on fracking.

Commenting on the announcement Colin Smyth said, “This is a step in the right direction by the Scottish Government and a victory for Labour, environmental groups and communities such as Canonbie who have all been pushing for a more definitive ban. When I Chaired Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Environment Committee we opposed fracking and that was the basis of the council’s submission to the public consultation. But it’s disappointing that the Government doesn’t go as far as we would have liked and imposed a full, legal ban which is clearly what local communities in Dumfries and Galloway want. The decision announced by the Government of an indefinite moratorium could be overturned by a Government Minister at any time. A full legal ban that has been passed in Parliament could not be overturned by a Minister. We owe it to communities to keep pushing for a proper legal ban so they have the certainty that fracking won’t happen in their area.”

Colin Smyth criticised Conservative MSPs for pushing for fracking to be allowed- while local Conservative MSPs pretend to communities such as Canonbie that they oppose fracking. Colin Smyth added, “The position of the Conservatives is utterly hypocritical. In Parliament they support and vote in favour of fracking but in communities such as Canonbie their local MSPs mislead the public by pretending to be against it. They are simply not being honest with local people and more importantly they are failing to represent their communities who clearly want a ban on fracking”.

Fellow South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour environment spokesperson Claudia Beamish currently has a proposal for a members bill in Parliament to legally ban fracking. Claudia said, “Labour has long argued that the climate change science is clear - we do not need another fossil fuel. Instead Scotland needs to develop forms of renewable energy with unionised and well paid jobs. This announcement is a result of Labour pressure and specifically my proposal to change the law to ban fracking in Scotland. But extending the moratorium indefinitely is not as strong as a full legal ban, and could be overturned at any point at the whim of a minister. These proposals don’t offer the same level of protection as my Bill. That’s why I want the SNP government to work with me to ensure a full legal ban.”

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