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MSP slams UK Government’s 'consistently incoherent' approach to devolution as 'simply not good enough'

Following yesterday’s SNP Conference debate on fracking, the MSP Angus MacDonald has welcomed a call by the party’s Westminster Energy Spokesperson, Callum McCaig MP, for full devolution of the offshore UCG licensing regime.

This follows last week’s Scottish Government announcement, also championed by Mr. MacDonald, that a moratorium is to be placed on this unconventional method of gas exploration.

UCG process

However, Mr. MacDonald – a leading member of Holyrood’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee who’s Falkirk East constituency is situated beside a proposed Firth of Forth UCG exploration site - is concerned that the moratorium on underground coal gasification in Scotland doesn’t go far enough.

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Presently, the moratorium only extends to UCG planning issues, leaving the actual licensing process a reserved matter for the authorities in Westminster to decide upon.

And while the licensing of onshore unconventional oil and gas is due to be devolved in the Scotland Bill and the Scottish Government has placed a separate moratorium on this form of exploration, offshore-related issues in this connection remain out of Holyrood's hands.

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Commenting, the MSP for Falkirk East stated, “Last week the Scottish Government announced a new – and widely acclaimed – moratorium on offshore underground coal gasification.

“There is already a moratorium on onshore unconventional oil and gas exploration and the Scottish Government is undertaking extensive and thorough research on the issue.

“This cautious and considered approach is a million miles from the gung-ho approach of the Westminster government. Rather than take the time to understand the consequences of these new techniques and listen to the communities affected – as the Scottish Government is doing – they are going full steam ahead regardless."

Angus by Port of Grangemouth on the shores of Firth of Forth - Copy

Mr. MacDonald, pictured above on a constituency visit to the Port of Grangemouth by the shores of the Firth of Forth, continued his statement by explicating, “On one hand, thankfully, and not before time, the Scottish Parliament is set to receive new powers over the licensing of onshore unconventional oil and gas in the Scotland Bill.

"Yet, on the other hand, powers over the licensing of underground coal gasification are to remain reserved - in spite of widespread anti-UCG protests here in Scotland."

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In conclusion, Angus MacDonald remarked, “We may have come to expect this consistently incoherent, illogical and piecemeal approach to devolution from Westminster. But, frankly speaking, it's simply not good enough.

“The Scottish Parliament must have full powers over the licensing of underground coal gasification – and the sooner, the better.”

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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