To be honest the UCG ban was always going to be the easiest fight for us to win, but only after we won the moratorium battle. This moratorium was announced a few days before the Hands over oor Forth event. Where for months and months before hand they had insisted they did not have the legal power to do so and resisted any and all calls for a moratorium.
At the same time as this second moratorium announcement the Scot Gov tried to sneak out and bury the news that INEOUS would, in fact, be given an 18 month programme of Test Drilling at Fracking sites even during the moratorium on Fracking and CBM.
Cluff Natural resources then announces it is pulling out and moving its focus elsewhere. Other UCG licenses in the Firth of Forth and Solway Firth were held by the firm Five Quarter, although that company collapsed earlier this year.
So the realities of this announcement are; as there are no companies waiting in the wings to cause issues through any implied court action or objections etc. The news coming out of Queensland about this process is very damming and would have to have some influence. Therefor banning UCG is an easy win for the Government. They come out not smelling of Syngas but once again smelling of roses and have once again taken the moral high ground.
So although a ban is very welcomed. I have campaigned for this ban for years, there is always a but. I still smell the stench of Methane. I do hope it is just my cynical nature over this issue and I am in need of a foil hat.
And before anyone starts it is not because of my “apparent hatred of the SNP”. I have covered this one already and as an old Anarchist Communist, I don’t really trust any of them. The worries I will detail below, would be held no matter who was in power.
So what are my concerns? Firstly throughout the campaigning against all forms of UGE the Scottish Government insisted it could not legally introduce a ban because it either did not have the powers or from fear of being taken to court.
When Fife Council passed a motion against all forms of UGE, they were widely criticised by the SNP.
“SNP councillor Neale Hanvey said the issue called the legal competency of the council into question.”
And he warned: “If in the very unfortunate circumstance that fracking was to be taken to a decision, who makes the decision when none of the councillors are able or competent to make that decision? Where would that go and would that decision then rest with people who didn’t represent the area?”
After the debate in Holyrood to ban Fracking and the SNP abstained, “SNP energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said he was disappointed that Labour had tried to “side-line” the environment debate by putting fracking front and centre.
He said the government was “deeply sceptical” about fracking, but said its position was “clear”; that there would be “no fracking in Scotland” unless there was clear evidence that it would cause no harm.”
Then of course this poster was widely used by the SNP to prove they could not ban Fracking, CBM and UCG.
But the Scottish Government had no problem banning Nuclear Power. There seemed to be no worry about being dragged through the courts here. They banned GMO crops. This was even before the new powers they now have. Now they have banned UCG. Why can’t this same thinking and approach not be used now?
So on the one hand we can ban UCG, Nuclear Power, GMO’s and on the other not Fracking and CBM.
Of course and here is where I hope the Scottish Government is going with this one. They will claim that the report on UCG was conclusive and so the ban is legal. The report on Fracking is not published so they need to await that publication before making a final decision.
But of course my alarm bells are ringing even louder in my ears and the stench of methane is still strong. The report on Fracking and CBM is not due to be published for a wee while.
Below is from the Scot Gov website:
“The Scottish Government announced a moratorium on unconventional oil and gas (UOG) on 28 January 2015, which has been welcomed by industry, community, and environmental groups.
Scottish Ministers commissioned a series of independent research projects into UOG (hydraulic fracturing and coal bed methane) to examine the potential environmental, health and economic impacts and to inform our evidence-led approach.
These are due to report later this year, with a public consultation exercise to follow on schedule, during winter 2016/17.
The public consultation will be open to all, giving everyone in Scotland a chance to respond and allow us to listen to the voices of concerned communities and stakeholders.
The moratorium on UOG will remain in place throughout this process, and we will use research and the views and information gathered though the consultation to inform decisions on the way forward.”
So the public consultation on Fracking and CBM is not due to be finished until after their conference and I fear it will be delayed until after next year’s local elections. (Again I hope this is me requiring a foil hat)
I have this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that the whole process will find Fracking and CBM safe and sound and so INEOUS will get their own way again. Today will be hailed a a victory and is only there to placate their own members before the conference and to give campaigners in the wider anti-UGE movement a small but in reality insignificant victory.
I can almost write there script on this. “We agreed with the evidence on UCG and implemented a complete ban. We have now fully considered all the evidence on Fracking and CBM and find that it does not pose anywhere near the environmental and health risks of UCG. We will proceed cautiously and ensure that we adhere fully to all the environmental and safety regulations. We will monitor this process and will call a halt if we find any issues of concern.
This will safeguard thousands of jobs, whilst creating high skilled employment in some of our most deprived areas. It will boost our own economy and help us to become self sufficient in all our energy needs, whilst we develop and increase our renewable capacity” or words to this effect.
I did another post a while ago on this and will finish with what I called that one.