'87% Backing' For Bid To Ban Fracking In Scotland

Labour's move to ban fracking in Scotland has been backed by nearly 90% of the public in a new consultation.

Scottish Labour's environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish held the consultation to gauge support for her Member's Bill to outlaw the controversial gas extraction technique across Scotland.

A total of 1,067 people responded - 934 (87%) are in favour of a ban, while 12 (1%) were neutral, 114 (11%) were opposed and seven were unsure.

More than one in nine people (95%) agreed fracking poses ''too many risks relating to pollution of the earth, water and air, and increased seismic activity'', with only 4% disagreeing.

Just 6% of consultation responses agreed fracking could stimulate the economy and create jobs, with 88% disagreeing.

The Scottish Government brought in a moratorium in 2015 preventing hydraulic fracturing for shale oil and gas, and coal bed methane extraction, from taking place while investigating evidence on its potential impact.

Ms Beamish said: ''There is a loud and clear message from this consultation: the overwhelming majority do not want fracking in Scotland, and have raised profound concerns about the potential environmental impact if it is allowed.

''The climate science is irrefutable. Scotland does not need a new fossil fuel as we shift towards a low-carbon economy. Most respondees argued that we should be focusing on the development of jobs in the renewables industries.

''Many are also concerned about the potential health implications of unconventional oil and gas extraction.''

''This is about Scotland's future, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the condition we leave our planet in for our children and our grandchildren.

''The Scottish Parliament has already voted to ban fracking in Scotland, but the SNP has refused to listen and kicked the decision into the long grass.

''I will now press ahead with my Bill to ban fracking. The people of Scotland do not want it and our environment does not need it.''

The parliament voted in favour of a Labour motion to ban fracking last June after SNP members abstained from voting.

The government's public consultation on the issue is due to close at the end of May and MSPs will be given a chance to vote before Scottish ministers come to a final decision, expected by the end of the year.

Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse has said the will of the Scottish Parliament will be respected when a final decision is made.

Scottish Liberal Democrat environment spokeswoman Mariam Mahmood said: ''Scotland cannot be a world leader on climate change while SNP ministers toy with opening up a new front of carbon-based fuels.

''It is high time the SNP joined Scottish Liberal Democrats and unequivocally ruled out fracking.''

Dr Sam Gardner, Head of Policy at WWF Scotland, said: ''The results of this consultation are another reminder that there is overwhelming public support in favour of cleaner forms of energy and against fracking occurring in Scotland.

''The climate science is clear, the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground.

''Scotland should put in place a clear legal block on unconventional fossil fuel extraction and instead play to its natural advantages in clean, green renewable energy.''

Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: "This show of public support is very welcome because it's an issue Greens have been campaigning on tirelessly since 2014, and I'm pleased to now welcome Labour's support.

"Whether we ban this dangerous practice with a member's Bill, or a government ban, the most important aspect is that it must be legally watertight.

"The current 'moratorium' isn't ideal and the Scottish Government really needs to get a move on, conclude its consultation as quickly as possible and come to an early decision so communities across Scotland have certainty.''

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "No hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking', can take place in Scotland as a result of the moratorium on unconventional oil and gas extraction which the Scottish Government has already put in place.

"Ministers continue to maintain a cautious and evidence-led approach. As part of that, a national consultation on unconventional oil and gas is currently under way.

"It would be wrong to deny the people of Scotland their chance to comment on this important issue, and no decision will be taken before the public have had an opportunity to take part in the consultation.

"The Scottish Government has made clear that Parliament will have the opportunity to vote on the issue and that the will of Parliament will be respected''.

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