Speaking at the SNP Annual Conference in Perth Angus MP Mike Weir who is the party’s Westminster Energy Spokesperson, called for a very cautious approach to “fracking”, whereby gas is released from shale deposits by injection of water and chemicals under pressure.
Licences for onshore oil exploration and exploitation are under the control of the UK government, which has indicated that a large part of Scotland including parts of Angus were suitable for exploration.
Mr Weir indicated that the Westminster SNP group would oppose clauses in the Infrastructure Bill which would allow drilling under land without the landowners permission.
Speaking at the conference he said
“Scotland is an energy rich country – we have ample resources of renewables and can generate the electricity our nation needs.
“We have many, many years of Oil and Gas reserves – isn’t it strange how they were a burden and running out during the Referendum and now they are flourishing again.
“But the UK government have decided that we should have fracking, and seem determined that it will happen. Just this week George Osborne speaking in the North of England suggested that there would be fund into which sum of the money from fracking would be put for future generations – that sounds awful like a Sovereign Wealth fund, something they have steadfastly refused for our north sea oil and gas reserves.
“And they are so keen to get the UK fracking that in the House of Lords they introduced new clauses into the Infrastructure Bill to allow fracking companies to frack 300 metres below any property without the consent of the landowner or householder.
“And no Lords from the Unionist parties – Tory, Labour or Liberal – voted against these measures, all just nodded them through.”
“I make no bones about it I do not think we need fracking, and I think there are serious questions and issues around the safety of fracking.
“In Denton Texas, the very home of Fracking a recent referendum voted to ban the process. In other American states they are moving against the process because of huge concern over pollution to water tables and the natural environment – something that we should be very concerned about here in Scotland where so many of our traditional industries rely on our reputation for a clean environment.”
“When the Infrastructure Bill comes before the House of Commons the SNP group will oppose these clauses
“But even if we succeed, this will not stop fracking – under the Petroleum Act 1994 the licensing of fracking is retained by Westminster and they can, and have, granted licences whatever the people and Parliament of Scotland may think of the process. Worse still companies with licences can apply to the courts for permission to go onto land or drill under land to extract shale oil if they cannot get agreement with landowners – at present owners can delay but not stop work .
“We need a very cautious approach to this technology and decisions on it should be taken in Scotland, by Scotland’s Parliament and not in Westminster.”