The fracking ban has rightly been met with celebration across Scotland, but there are concerns from communities and many Scottish National Party members that the ban is not yet legally watertight, as it merely extends a temporary brake on planning decisions. Will the First Minister get the ban properly over the line by putting it on the same footing as the ban on new nuclear power stations, and will she commit to using the licensing powers when they arrive?
The ban on new nuclear energy in Scotland is done through planning powers and that is exactly what we are proposing for the ban on fracking. Let me be clear, because to some ears, it will sound as if some members are dancing on the head of a pin: fracking is being banned in Scotland—end of story. There will be no fracking in Scotland, and that position could not be clearer.
Members will appreciate that, because powers over licensing have not yet been transferred to this Parliament, we do not have the power to do what some—Claudia Beamish in particular—are asking us to do in legislation. What Paul Wheelhouse outlined to the chamber earlier this week is an effective way of banning fracking and—as the precedent on nuclear energy demonstrates—is also the quickest way of banning fracking. Instead of continuing to have this abstract argument, those who, like me, do not believe that fracking should go ahead in Scotland should welcome the fact that fracking in Scotland is banned.