Cambuslang Community Council has submitted a paper to the Scottish Government as a contribution to the government’s finalisation of its policy position on the development of ‘unconventional oil and gas’ through fracking in Scotland. There is no current proposal for fracking in Cambuslang, and there is effectively a Scottish Government moratorium on fracking, but communities across Scotland are becoming aware of the possibility that this may change through commercial or political pressures. Cambuslang is included in a map of ‘shale prospective areas’ produced by the UK Oil & Gas Authority,
In considering the issue, CCC members reviewed the evidence for fracking, covering a range of reports produced in recent years, many commissioned by the Scottish Government. Based on this, the view of CCC is as follows.
- The case for fracking being permitted is not proven. Many studies are inconclusive, and it would make sense to wait until the trial being conducted in England has been operational for a few years, with a comprehensive assessment of the experience – regarding the economic benefits, health impacts, geological stability, local impacts and other issues – with recommendations for Scotland based on the evidence.
- The level of regulation required is unclear. Several of the reports commissioned by Scottish Government mention the need for “tight regulation”. As yet, it is not clear what level of ‘tightness’ would be necessary. This is another argument for a ‘wait and see’ approach.
- There is no strategic imperative to exploit this potential resource sooner rather than later. The argument by prospective developers that Scotland ‘should get in on the ground floor’ to develop internationally marketable expertise in this technology seems at present somewhat fanciful.
- The distribution of potential gains and losses from fracking is likely to be very uneven and unequal. Any approval of fracking would need to address this issue.
- Scotland’s energy policy should be geared to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is not evident that fracking would support this objective.
- Community interests should be at the heart of decision-making. Communities should not just be consulted but have a major say in whether fracking is undertaken in their area or not.
A copy of our paper and review of the evidence are here.
Cambuslang Community Council would welcome contributions to this debate from anyone in the community. Please feel free to send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org