UK Government offers Central Belt to fracking industry

28 July 2014

Today the UK Government launched the 14th onshore oil and gas licensing round, in which 20,000 square km across central and southern Scotland has been offered for unconventional fossil fuel exploitation. The UK government website provides further details of the 14th round and a map showing the areas under offer in Scotland, which you can see part of below. Drilling will be allowed into the watery areas of the River Forth from onshore sites, too.

In a Press Release for Friends of the Earth Scotland, Head of Campaigns Mary Church commented:

“Under UK Government plans some of the most densely populated parts of Scotland could end up with the fracking industry as neighbours. Tens of thousands of people will be understandably worried about what this means for their homes, their health and their local environment.”

“Climate science tells us we must rapidly move away from oil and gas towards a clean, renewable energy future if we are to avoid a catastrophic global temperature rise. In this context it is utterly irresponsible to open up a new frontier of dirty fossil fuels.”

The Department for Energy and Climate Change’s announcement invites companies to tender for exclusive rights to exploit shale gas and other unconventional fossil fuels. The launch of this latest licensing round – the first in 6 years – follows the publication of research from the British Geological Survey that indicated only a modest amount of shale gas and oil in the Scotland’s central belt. The report also noted the challenges of extracting the resource in the complex geological formations in this area.

“While recent planning restrictions, low shale gas estimates and strong community resistance make Scotland’s central belt an unattractive prospect for potential licence holders, some fracking firms may still be hoping they can find a so-called sweet spot and make a quick buck.”

“Shale gas and coalbed methane extraction has left a trail of health problems and environmental damage across the US and Australia where the unconventional fossil fuel industry is more developed. The Scottish Government needs to send a stronger signal to the industry and ban unconventional gas extraction altogether.

“The UK Government’s irresponsible courting of the fracking companies could leaves thousand of Scottish homes at risk from this dangerous industry. Scotland should concentrate on living up to its climate commitments and becoming a world leader in renewables rather than joining the UK’s reckless dash for dirty gas.”

Publication date: 

Monday, July 28, 2014