SNP MP urges the UK to follow Scotland’s fracking ban

The UK Government has been urged to “follow Scotland’s lead” and ban fracking across the country by an MP from the Scottish National Party.

Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) argued that “if we’re going to be serious about the climate emergency then there should not be fracking anywhere in the UK”.

In July 2018, fracking company Cuadrilla was finally given the go-ahead to start extraction at a site in Lancashire. The decision marked a watershed moment for the UK’s fracking sector, which has long been subject to extended protests and legal challenges.

Conversely, Scotland effectively banned fracking in 2015 over concerns about the environment and the difficulty meeting the country’s climate change targets. This decision was later challenged by global energy company Ineos and Aberdeen firm ReachCSG. 

Responding to Grady, the Conservative minister for universities, science, research and innovation Chris Skidmore said that in the last quarter of 2018 just 2.5 per cent of electricity was generated by coal in comparison to 40 per cent back in 2010.

He added: “We’re going in the right direction, but we can’t forget the fact that we will be using gas in Scotland”.

Raising the fracking issue during Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) questions, Grady said: “There is no fracking in Scotland, there has been no fracking in Scotland and under the SNP there will be no fracking in Scotland, and if we’re going to be serious about the climate emergency then there should not be fracking anywhere in the UK.

“So, will the UK finally follow Scotland’s lead and rule out fracking on these islands?”

Skidmore replied, saying, “We obviously want to ensure that we can increase our opportunities for generating electricity through renewables”, adding that 85 per cent of UK households were using gas for heating.

He said: “We had 47 per cent of gas being imported in 2017. If we don’t take action, this could rise to 72 per cent.”

Labour’s Geraint Davies (Swansea West) said Nasa and satellite data showed that 5 per cent of the methane from fracking was leaked through fugitive emissions.

He said: “The methane is 85 times worse than C02 for global warming, making fracking worse than coal for climate change, so will he meet with me to discuss my fracking bill?

Skidmore said a 2013 report concluded that the carbon footprint of UK shale gas would be much less than coal and comparable to imported liquified natural gas.

Measures, he said, were in place to minimise methane emissions, adding that the Environment Agency “issues and robustly enforces legally binding environmental permits regulating methane emissions”.

Rachel Reeves, Labour chair of the BEIS committee, called on the Government to end its “ideological opposition” to onshore wind.

She said: “The climate change committee say that we need to double our production of onshore wind in the next decade. Instead, it’s likely to halve because of this Government’s ideological opposition to it.

“We’re not on target to meet our fourth and fifth carbon budgets - let alone achieve net zero - so will the Government end its ideological opposition to onshore wind so that we can hand on to future generations a better planet?”

Skidmore said communities should be able to “reflect on the benefits” of renewable energy in their communities, rather than call them ideological opponents to renewables, adding: “I don’t think that’s very fair on those communities.”

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