Sanity and Sense in Scotland!

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay ! "By Keith Aitken in Edinburgh | 14 January 2014

The Scottish Government has rejected David Cameron’s plan to boost the shale gas industry through fiscal incentives to local authorities, and warned any fracking projects proposed in Scotland would face tough tests to gain planning consent.

Scottish Government officials said ministers have no plans to emulate Cameron’s incentive plan for developments announced yesterday, which will see town halls in England retain all of the business rates raised from local shale gas sites.

Any fracking proposals would be subject to ‘a rigorous, evidence-based approach in the development and deployment of this technology’, the Holyrood administration said. Planning constraints were tightened after an earlier application for exploratory fracking in southwest Scotland, and there are currently no live proposals known to the Scottish Government.

Instead, Scottish ministers – who are committed to meeting all Scotland’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020 – will continue to push for investment in renewable generation. A survey published today by the industry body Scottish Renewables today revealed that 540 Scottish-based renewables companies now employ around 11,700 people, up 5% in the past year.

Cameron announced plans on Monday to incentivise fracking developments by allowing local authorities that approve them to retain all the resulting business rate revenues, rather than the usual 50%. The UK coalition believes that fracking to release reserves of shale gas could attract £3bn of investment to the UK, create around 74,000 jobs, and help provide security of energy supply.

But the technique is opposed both by environmental campaigners, who see it as a reversion to fossil fuel exploitation, and by others who believe it creates dangerous geological instabilities by fracturing the gas-bearing minerals deep underground.

The issue, which is largely governed by devolved powers, has produced a marked policy divergence between the London and Edinburgh governments, even though it was a Scot – James ‘Paraffin’ Young – who pioneered the extraction of fuels from shale, resulting in a shale-mining industry in west-central Scotland which continued into the 1960s.

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser warned Scotland was in danger of being ‘left behind in the fracking revolution’, but the Scottish Government’s stance has been welcomed by Green MSP Alison Johnstone and environmental groups.

From Alexander Mccallum