FALKIRK DISTRICT SNP CALL FOR BAN IN SUBMISSION TO SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT FRACKING CONSULTATION

Fracking illustration

Calls for moratorium to be replaced by a ban at the end of the consultation process, and for the Government to respect the will of Parliament.

Elected members and candidates from across Falkirk district have, today, made a submission to the Scottish Government consultation on Unconventional Oil and Gas (UOG).

The joint submission calls for the current moratorium to be replaced by a full ban on the processes involved in UOG extraction, including fracking, after consideration of the evidence presented, and after listening to the voices of people from across the district on both sides of the argument. It also calls for the inclusion of evidence from the public local enquiry into Dart energy in the consultation, to be considered and for the Scottish Government to honour its commitment to respect the will of the Parliament in any vote on the subject after the consultation process has ended.

Falkirk East MSP, Angus MacDonald, said:

“This joint submission takes into account all of the evidence submitted by all sides of the argument, and has led us to the make the calls we have made in the submission; that the Scottish Government should move to ban UOG processes in Scotland after the consultation process has ended, for several reasons, but most of all that there can be no guarantees given on the safeguarding of our natural heritage, and the health, safety and wellbeing of our citizens.

“There is no need for a dash for gas, especially while environmental risks remain. For the little, short term benefit that these processes may have, there are medium to long term issues that remain unquantified for the preservation of land, water and our population which is of a great deal more benefit to us and our communities than these processes could ever bring.”

Cllr. Cecil Meiklejohn, SNP Group Leader in Falkirk Council, said:

“After careful consideration of the evidence, this was the only call which could be made. There is absolutely no point in putting sectors of our economy at risk for the benefit of the few. Jobs, water quality, food and drink would all be unnecessarily put at risk, for something which will never be accurately forecast in terms of benefit to the economy.

“Communities would, eventually, be left wanting after any possible industry withdrew from the area, and after significant disruption to their local areas, then this is something which could never be accepted.”

John McNally, SNP Candidate for the Falkirk Constituency, said:

“There is no doubt in my mind that what we are calling for is the right thing to do. We have seen the devastation these processes have left in their wake in onshore installations across the globe, so why would we ever want the same to happen here in Scotland, where our natural resource and natural heritage contributes so much to our economy and our standing in the world as a country with so much to offer.

“To allow such damage to be caused for short term gain where the companies stand ready to reap the majority of the benefits would be turning our backs on the communities that could be worst affected by this upheaval, and we are not willing and prepared to do that.”

Martyn Day, SNP Candidate for Linlithgow and East Falkirk Constituency, said:

“We have seen the effects of these processes, and it is safe to say that no one knows just how safe they can be made, or if any of the safety concerns can be addressed at all. This, above all else, should be the main concern. If these processes cannot be guaranteed to be safe, then why risk it in the first place.

“Any suggestion of risk to our other well-established, globally-recognised, world-leading industries such as the food and drink and whisky sectors, should be enough of a reason for these processes not to go ahead, and I would hope that the Scottish Government would consider the same after the exhaustive process being carried out ends.”

 

Summary of Joint Submission:

  • There is a real danger that this industry would not be financially sustainable. Wholesale gas prices are volatile, and frequently drop below the estimates given for the cost production.
  • Few permanent jobs would be created. The roles left behind after the wells were completed would mostly be low-paid service sector roles in areas such as transport and security.
  • If the industry reached any great size, the Scottish Government would either have to abandon or severely curtail its carbon emissions reduction targets, or seek further reductions in other sectors. We would question where these savings would come from and what effect this would have on the wider economy and society.
  • According to the information presented to us, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the industry would create environmental hazards, but not enough to say whether these would pose a risk to human health. We do not think that gambling with the health of our communities is acceptable. 
  • There is growing evidence that the pollution left behind by the heavy industries of the past is contributing to poor health outcomes in Scottish communities clustered around former industrial areas. In Central Scotland, these areas tend to sit above hydrocarbon deposits that UOG prospectors want to target. Deprivation and inequality are huge challenges in many of these communities. We do not think that adding to the burden of pollution in these areas is in keeping with the Scottish Government's commitment to social solidarity and reducing regional inequality.
  • As well damaging as human and environmental health, the environmental impacts of this industry could threaten existing profitable industries like Scotland’s food and drink industry or its tourism sector.
  • The precautionary approach to regulation that Health Scotland’s Health Impact Assessment deemed necessary would be prohibitively expensive, and difficult if not impossible to police.
  • There is every possibility that the costs of decommissioning wells and remediate sites will fall on the taxpayer if companies declare bankruptcy.
  • We are concerned that the rights and concerns of local communities will be disregarded in favour of development.
  • A decrease in property values near well sites is all but assured. There are already local people seeking help because they’ve been unable to sell their homes after buyers have learned that drilling is planned nearby.
  • We urge the Scottish Government to consider the evidence collected during the Public Inquiry into Dart Energy’s proposals for Coal Bed Methane extraction near Falkirk. Local residents were lied to and bullied. Planning permission was given despite the omission of key information about hazards that could have led to groundwater contamination or methane migration to the surface.

A full version of the joint submission will be available online shortly.

 

 

ANGUS MACDONALD WELCOMES FIRST MINISTER’S COMMITMENT ON SEPA PRESENCE IN GRANGEMOUTH

Grangemouth Oil Refinery dusk with flare light

Following calls from the community for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to have a permanent presence in Grangemouth the Port’s MSP, Angus MacDonald, has welcomed comments from the First Minister at Thursday’s First Minister’s Questions (11/05/17) that “SEPA has agreed to consider the benefits and costs of establishing a Grangemouth site that can support the wider Stirling-based area team.”

The First Minister’s comment comes after local elected representatives (Angus MacDonald MSP, Councillor David Balfour and Councillor Robert Spears) along with Grangemouth Community Councillors met with SEPA and Falkirk Council to impress upon the environmental protection agency the need for a permanent SEPA presence in the town.

At FMQ’s the First Minister stated: “The Scottish Government is in regular contact with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to support its delivery of regulatory and other services, as well as the management of the SEPA estate.

SEPA staff are regularly present in Grangemouth as part of their duties to deliver regulatory functions. I understand that, following discussion with the community council and local elected members, SEPA has agreed to consider the benefits and costs of establishing a Grangemouth site that can support the wider Stirling-based area team.”

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday after the First Minister’s comments, Angus MacDonald MSP said:

“I’m delighted that there is progress towards having SEPA staff being based permanently in Grangemouth. I have been pursuing this issue for some time at senior Government level and with Directors at SEPA.

 "The First Minister is aware that I facilitated a Problem Solving Partnership recently involving SEPA, Falkirk Council and Grangemouth Community Council on this issue, and I'm pleased to report that SEPA have engaged positively and proactively with the local community.

“Clearly the Grangemouth community has lived cheek by jowl with the petrochemical and agri-chemical industries for decades, and recognition has to be given to that.

“Proper acknowledgment and consideration must continue to be made by the Scottish Government and public bodies such as SEPA that there is a community of 18,000 people living in Grangemouth who are entitled to continue to live in a healthy environment and that the town is not just an industrial cash cow to boost Scotland’s Gross Domestic Product.”

MACDONALD WELCOMES SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT CONFIRMATION THAT FORTHCOMING TRANSPORT BILL WILL IMPROVE BUS SERVICES IN FALKIRK DISTRICT

AlexanderDennis Enviro500

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has welcomed confirmation from the Scottish Government that it will bring forward a Transport Bill which will provide an important opportunity to improve local bus services and tackle declining patronage of buses.

Writing to Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee, of which Angus MacDonald is Depute Convener, the Scottish Government states “we will look at how we can improve the options available to local authorities to influence and improve bus services in their area.”

The Scottish Government continued:

“The Transport Bill will increase the ability of transport authorities to work with operators in partnership to deliver a jointly agreed local network of bus services which meet local needs.”

“Local franchising will also be available to local authorities where there is a case for it”.

“The Government is taking action and developing legislation which will change the current regulatory environment for buses.”

Speaking at Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee last Thursday (28/4/17) Angus MacDonald MSP said:

“I very much welcomed the announcement by the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf that a Transport Bill would be coming forward and I was particularly encouraged by the suggestion that ‘local franchising’ could be introduced which would effectively enable local authorities to become bus operators if they wished to, and I would wholeheartedly welcome any legislation that would make such a development easier for Falkirk Council to develop.

“Clearly, during the passage of the Bill through Holyrood there will be opportunities in consultation and in Parliament for people to comment and contribute to the developing bus policy.

“I look forward to playing my part in empowering local action regarding buses within the national framework, firmly aimed at enabling the bus sector to fully deliver its potential.”

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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