Socialist Worker

Activists urge SNP to ban the frackers

by Gordon Leggate
Issue No. 2556

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and her party are closer to the fracking bosses than they like to admit

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and her party should not be cosying up to the fracking bosses


Campaigners against fracking have been mobilising across Scotland urging people to reject the return of this dangerous method of drilling for gas.

From street stalls and local meetings to film showings, the range of people involved highlights the depth of feeling against fracking.

Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) government put a moratorium on fracking in January 2015.

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Its Consultation on Unconventional Oil and Gas, set to end next week, gave groups and individuals a chance to put their views across.

The overwhelming response from people was distrust of the fracking firms, and anger that frackers might come to their communities.

If the bosses get their way, they plan fracking across the whole of Scotland’s Midland Valley.

This is the most populated area of Scotland—its “central belt”—and includes Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The British government has issued three fracking licences in Scotland.

These give firms the right to search for and extract oil and gas in a given area.

The SNP’s moratorium means these firms cannot begin fracking.

But test drilling is allowed.

Jim Ratcliffe’s firm Ineos holds the licence for the area surrounding Grangemouth and Falkirk.

In Perth and Kinross, the IGAS giant’s subsidiary Fife Dart Energy has the rights.

Reach Coal Seam Gas, which is 80 percent owned by Ineos, can operate in North Lanarkshire, Falkirk and East Dunbartonshire.

That includes areas near north Glasgow. The SNP was pressured into the moratorium, but on the same day it began Sturgeon was holding talks with Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe recently invested £450 million to retool the refinery at Grangemouth for processing US shale gas.

Spree

Since then Ineos has been on a spending spree, buying up the Forties pipeline from BP for £192 million.

It became the biggest private firm in the North Sea after a £1 billion takeover of Dong Energy last week.

While not all this investment is focused on fracking, many activists fear Ineos’ purchases could buy it enormous influence with the Scottish government.

In the days before the end of the consultation, groups opposed to fracking gathered thousands of responses.

The national anti-fracking group Broad Alliance, Friends of the Earth and 38 Degrees planned to deliver them to the Scottish parliament.

We argue that the SNP must listen to the thousands of Scots who wholly reject this dangerous and unnecessary method of drilling.

It should institute a complete ban on unconventional oil and gas extraction in Scotland.

We must keep pressure on all politicians to vote against any measures that may open the door to fracking.

No matter how regulated fracking firms are, it doesn’t stop it being hazardous to communities and the climate.

The fight against fracking is necessary as part of the wider fight against climate change.

Governments should be directing their efforts to developing and using clean renewable energy.

They should not keep us locked into a fossil fuel economy that’s killing the planet.

A complete ban will give strength to those fighting against fracking in other parts of Britain and around the world.

Gordon Leggate is part of the South Lanarkshire Against Unconventional Gas (Slaug) campaign group bit.ly/2qnzm6f

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