Harvie challenges Salmond on fracking

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Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, today challenged First Minister Alex Salmond to rule out fracking for gas in Scotland.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood, Mr Harvie said that there can be no safe buffer zone for such developments and that fracking and unconventional gas have no place in Scotland.

The First Minister described shale gas as providing “undoubted opportunities” and responded to Mr Harvie by saying an “evidence-based approach” would be a “profoundly good way to proceed.”

Speaking after the exchange Mr Harvie said:

“The First Minister had a chance to take a more responsible approach to fracking than the Cameron government with its tax breaks and business rates bribe but he failed to do so. Mr Salmond is ignoring the climate science that tells us we already have access to more fossil fuels than we can safely burn.

“Fracking won’t deliver long-term jobs, won’t bring down energy bills for consumers and it poses unnecessary risks for our local communities. The SNP’s failure to rule out the development of another form of fossil fuel undermines Scotland’s clear opportunity for a low carbon future with sustainable jobs.”

A Public Inquiry is to be held into Australian company Dart Enegy’s application to extract Coalbed Methane at Airth near Stirling. The Inquiry will convene on 18th of March and will run for three weeks.

At their October conference members of the Scottish Greens overwhelmingly backed an emergency motion condemning the Scottish Government for opening the door to unconventional gas developments such as fracking. They also called for a moratorium on all exploratory and commercial unconventional gas operations.

The motion was proposed by Stirling Green councillor Mark Ruskell, who said:

“The unconventional gas development at Airth is pivotal as it concerns the first commercial scale development whereas others such as Balcombe are merely exploratory. Draft Scottish Planning Policy on unconventional gas developments has been delayed until Summer next year, creating an open door for developers.”

The Public Inquiry in March is the first of its kind in the UK and its outcome is keenly awaited by both the unconventional gas industry and environmentalists.