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Success - fracking moratorium in Scotland.
 03.02.2015 23:18:02

Good news from Scotland, as Energy Minister Fergus Ewing this week announced a moratorium on the fracking industry while a full health impact assessment and public consultation is carried out. The decision came after a sustained campaign by a number of anti-fracking groups across the country, including Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "Fergus Ewing's announcement is huge victory for the communities, individuals and groups who have been campaigning to stop this dirty industry in Scotland. This moratorium is a very big nail in the coffin for the unconventional gas and fracking industry in Scotland. Any serious examination of the mounting evidence will inevitably lead to a ban. The Scottish Government has acted decisively today to protect communities across the country and the environment from this unnecessary industry."

Mr Ewing also confirmed that it would be inappropriate to grant any planning permissions for unconventional gas while this work is being carried out. This means at least considerable delay if not the end of Dart Energy's plans for commercial coalbed methane at Airth, near Falkirk. Thousands of people locally and across the country opposed this development and Friends of the Earth Scotland fought alongside the community at a public inquiry last year. In the south, Canonbie, where 19 planning permissions for coalbed methane extraction exist, is also protected by the government's new policy.

However, the moratorium announced today is not comprehensive as it does not include underground coal gasification, where coal is set alight underground and gas collected at the surface.

Dr Dixon continued: "We are disappointed that underground coal gasification has been excluded from this moratorium. This desperate method of extracting yet more fossil fuels involves setting coal seams alight deep underground and has been linked to serious pollution in recent trials. Going after new fossil fuels is the last thing we need in the context of the latest, urgent warnings from climate science, and is not a responsible action for a country trying to meet its targets."

However, the move is a huge step forward towards the ultimate goal of a comprehensive ban across the country.

"While we are calling for an outright ban, a halt on the industry while a full examination of health and environmental impacts is carried out is very welcome. Scotland joins France, Ireland, the Netherlands and New York State in a long list of countries and regions which have acted to stop the unconventional gas industry. We are convinced that a proper examination of the mounting evidence of health and environmental concerns must lead to a full ban."

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