South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine last year opposed plans by Buccleuch Estates to give multi-national mining company Dart Energy permission to drill for unconventional gas in the scenic village of Canonbie and demanded a review into Dumfries and Galloway Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the development.
In May this year The Westminster Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published a consultation paper outlining proposals to allow industry to drill below people’s land in order to access shale gas without first negotiating a right of access – prompting Ms McAlpine to write to the Scottish Government urging them to take a stand against the plans.
Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP has now announced that he will oppose the moves by the UK government to remove the rights of householders to object to fracking companies drilling beneath their homes.
Evidence has shown that the extraction of shale gas and oil often involves hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – a process which can cause contamination of the water supply and earth tremors.
Ms McAlpine said:
“The Scottish Government believe that there should be an evidence based, cautious and considered approach to unconventional oil and gas, and that all of the decisions taken about it should be taken by the people of Scotland, through the Parliament and Government they elected.
“In stark contrast the UK Government’s gung-ho approach to fracking and complete failure to consult the Scottish Government is totally irresponsible but entirely typical.
“The lessons learned from developments at Canonbie are clear. Councillors and local residents were completely by-passed in the decision making process to grant permission to drill.
“The views of local communities should be of the utmost importance in coming to a decision about whether exploration for unconventional gas is safe and desirable – the latest proposals from Westminster fly in the face of that.
“The debacle at Canonbie underlines the importance of protecting local resident’s rights to be informed of plans to drill and given the opportunity to object to such proposals.”