PUBLIC DEBATE NEEDED ON WESTMINSTER FRACKING PLANS
Friday, 26 September 2014 12:07
PUBLIC OPINION MUST NOT BE IGNORED IN “DASH FOR GAS”
The SNP has today objected to UK Government plans to remove the right of householders to object to fracking taking place beneath their homes – and highlighted the need for a public debate on the issue, rather than a behind closed doors agreement at Westminster.
Despite 99 per cent of respondents to the UK Government consultation objecting to the plans, it has been announced that companies will be allowed to drill below people’s land without first negotiating a right of access – removing the right to object which currently exists.
The Scottish Government has already objected to the proposals, instead calling for the powers over unconventional oil and gas to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament and pointing out whatever the rights and wrongs of the proposal it needs to be given proper consideration and be subject to public debate in Scotland, to allow the issue to be taken forward in a cautious, considered and evidence-based fashion.
Commenting, SNP MSP Angus MacDonald said:
“Westminster’s gung-ho approach to fracking is the exact opposite of what is needed – and people across the country will be concerned that the Westminster establishment is taking decisions like this with seemingly little regard for the wishes of local people.
“The UK Government has completely failed to listen to the concerns people have regarding these plans – 99 per cent of respondents to their own consultation objected to them.
“Whatever your view on unconventional oil and gas extraction – and there are pros and cons – it makes no sense whatsover to ride roughshod over public opinion by removing householders rights without adequate debate. In an area of energy policy where people have concerns, it does not engender public confidence that the UK Government has approached the issue in this way.
“This issue is far too significant to be simply nodded through as part of a behind closed doors agreement between the Tories and Lib Dems – people in Scotland deserve the chance to debate plans which rob them of their existing rights, without even the right to individual compensation in return.
“These are powers which should be transferred to the Scottish Parliament – to allow the matter to be taken forward in a cautious, considered and evidence based fashion, rather than in the gung-ho manner favoured by the UK Government in their dash for gas.”