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Scotland puts a block on fracking - 2nd February


The Scottish Government has this week announced a block on planned fracking operations, pending further inquiries. Ministers will now be carrying out investigations into the environmental and health implications of the controversial drilling technique.

Full control over all fracking developments is due to be delegated to Scotland after May's general election. Until the elections take place in May, the consent for the oil and gas extraction will be refused on planning grounds.

The announcement by Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, came a day after the boss of the Grangemouth chemical plant said the UK must embrace shale gas.

UKOOG, which represents the onshore oil and gas industry, said the sector would boost Scotland's economy. The environmental group, WWF Scotland, said fracking; the process, from which gas is extracted from rock, should be ruled out completely. Opponents to fracking have said it causes earthquakes, pollutes water supplies and could lead to inappropriate development in the countryside.

Mr Ewing said Holyrood Ministers had taken a "cautious" approach to fracking, while the UK Government had sought to develop it "quickly, at any cost". Mr Ewing announced a public consultation on oil and gas extraction, an assessment into the impact on the public’s health, further work on strengthening planning guidance for fracking and looking into tightening environmental regulations.

Fergus Ewing told the Scottish Ministers that all of this would “take time” and added: "Given the importance of this work, it would be inappropriate to allow any planning consents in the meantime. I'm therefore announcing today a moratorium on the granting of planning consents for all unconventional oil and gas developments, including fracking."

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