While England has permitted companies to use fracking, Scotland has decided to make a permanent decision and to ban the method, as a result of a prolonged public consultation process with regard to the country’s future. The decision has been made, however, the proposed ban must now go through the Scottish Parliament.
The public has had an overwhelming desire to prevent companies from using fracking in the country, as there were close to 60,000 individuals stated that they oppose the method. This is in addition to the many specialists who have reported that the risks posed by fracking are simply too great. An argument has been made regarding the fact that if this method were to be permitted, the economic benefits would not outweigh the risks of increased pollution.
Environmental organizations such as WWF or the Friends of the Earth Scotland have, naturally, supported the decision, stating that “the fracking industry must be banned to avoid potentially devastating impacts to people’s health, the climate and our natural environment.”
The Friends of the Earth Scotland also requested that the Scottish government commit to passing a law that specifically states that fracking is banned. While this would go beyond the proposed measures, it would guarantee that companies will not find any backdoors through which to simply avoid this decision. Also, such a law would serve as a statement, enforcing the fact that humanity needs to urgently stop using fossil fuel and look to renewable alternatives.
Unfortunately, the only way through which the decision could be enforced on a legislative level would be with the help of London.
Studies have shown that England and Scotland have somewhat limited amounts of exploitable shale gas. A survey has shown that there may be approx. 80 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in central Scotland, however, the engineering company Ineos has announced that plans for further exploration have been made. Luckily, the massive public response towards fracking, form 2015, has determined the government to temporarily ban the method. This may now lead to a permanent decision.
The attitude of the Scottish people and government towards the exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels does not come as a surprise, considering the fact that another similar decision was made regarding the extraction process of onshore underground gas (underground coal gasification).
The 2015 ban was extended one year later, however, the decision came with the requirement that proper research is conducted.
While things may be headed in the right direction for Scotland, the same cannot be said about England, as the UK government is still issuing drilling licenses.
Cuadrilla, a shale gas company is conducting exploratory drilling in Lancashire at the moment, however, it does face public opposition. Furthermore, the company only managed to begin its projects in various locations after the Communities Secretary overruled the decision of the local councils to prohibit drilling.