The Government of Scotland will impose a permanent ban on fracking according to a ministerial statement this week.
Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy and member of the majority Scottish National Party, told the Scottish Parliament that, following a January 2015 moratorium on the practice, the ban was to be made permanent.
Wheelhouse said that ministers had a “moral responsibility” to tackle climate change and act in the “best interests of the country as a whole, and that 99 per cent of respondents to a 60,000-strong consultation were against fracking.
US-based non-governmental organization Food and Water Watch has described fracking as “a destructive process that corporations including Halliburton, BP and ExxonMobil use to extract oil and natural gas from rock formations deep underground. They drill a well and inject millions of gallons of toxic fracking fluid – a mix of water, sand and harsh fracking chemicals – at extreme enough pressure to fracture the rock and release the oil or gas”, concluding that (fracking) “is an unsafe process that harms our drinking water and health…the push for fracking hurts communities and worsens climate change”.
Welcoming the Scottish ban, Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, said: “It’s excellent news the Scottish Government has listened to the thousands of people, campaigners, and politicians across the country who have been calling for a permanent ban to fracking. “The climate science is clear. The vast majority of fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground. It’s fantastic Scottish Ministers agree that we need to start placing them off limits.”
Does the Ban go Far Enough?
The Scottish Green Party described the announcement by the Scottish Government that the current temporary moratorium on fracking will be extended "indefinitely" as a step in the right direction. Mark Ruskell, Energy and Environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:
"We welcome the Scottish Government’s clear intention to ban fracking. That is a victory for communities across Scotland and the wider green movement.
"However, we are still a long way from turning a planning moratorium into a watertight ban that can resist legal challenge from powerful companies like (pro-fracturing campaigners, refining company INEOS…Greens have opposed all forms of unconventional gas extraction from the start, and over the years we've stood with communities against the threat of dangerous and unnecessary drilling. Today we see a step in the right direction from a government that has sat on the fence long enough. The risks to public health, the safety of workers, and the damage to our reputation as a climate change leader have been clear all along”.
Irish Premier Says "No" to Water Privatization
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar of the Republic of Ireland has ruled out a referendum on ownership of the public water system "Irish Water", the Irish Times reports. He said any urgency for such a poll was gone.
“Privatising our public water services is like suggesting that somebody might want to privatise our national schools. It is impossible and absurd.”
The Taoiseach said there was no chance of the system being privatised because it requires a subvention of €1 billion EUR just to exist. “Who is going to buy that? Nobody is,” he said.
He could not see how a referendum on water “would make a blind bit of difference because Irish Water is quite simply not a commercial entity and there is no possibility of it being privatised”.