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Scotland agrees moratorium on fracking, UK steams ahead

Scotland’s moratorium on fracking and Wales’ motion not to agree to fracking until its safety is proven are steps in the right direction to prevent the environmental and health impacts of shale gas. However a majority of MPs refused to back proposals for a UK-wide moratorium.

At the end of January, Ministers of the Scottish National Party announced an indefinite ban on fracking in Scotland. A ban would last however long it takes to carry out a full public consultation on the extraction of shale gas and research into its impact on the environment and public health.

While there was good news in Scotland, a majority of MPs refused to back proposals for a UK-wide moratorium despite pressure in a House of Commons vote. Although the UK Government did agree on 13 new conditions to be met before shale gas extraction can take place, pledged an outright ban on fracking in national parks, sites of special interest and areas of national beauty and backed amendment backed calling for fracking to suspended for up to 30 months while an assessment is carried out, this is still not enough.

There was however positive news in Wales last week when Members of the Welsh Assembly Governments overwhelmingly agreed to a motion for Wales calling on the Welsh Government to do everything within its power to prevent fracking taking place in Wales until it is proven to be safe in both an environmental and public health context.

The motion, does not in itself place a moratorium on extreme energy extraction in Wales, but it is a huge step in the right direction. It believes that energy should be fully devolved to the National Assembly for Wales and that the Welsh Government should have the power to block fracking. It also notes that Wales has historically made a substantial contribution to the UK’s energy portfolio and regrets the provision within the UK Government’s Infrastructure Bill that will allow fracking companies to drill beneath homes in Wales without the permission of property owners.

Advocates to stop fracking including anti-fracking organisations, local authorities and citizens across Scotland and Wales are grateful to those in Parliament who have actively engaged and listened to the concerns about fracking, especially on the environment and health.

Originally posted on 12 February 2015

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