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Scotland’s Onshore Unconventional Oil and Gas Policy

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd October 2019.

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Photo of Paul Wheelhouse Paul Wheelhouse Scottish National Party

I am not saying that this is characteristic of Neil Findlay, but he is being a bit mean-spirited about our approach. We have taken time because we needed time to gather and assess evidence and consult the public, from whom we had 60,000 responses to our talking fracking consultation. We have had to follow the statutory process and conduct the strategic environmental assessment required by the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005, which was put in place by Labour and the Liberal Democrats when they were in power. We have therefore followed the legal requirements placed on the Government in order to get to where we are today.

I am not sure whether Neil Findlay is aware that his colleagues in the Welsh Government have relied on the evidence that we gathered to form their policy in Wales, so our work has benefited others and we are keen to share it with England too. I recognise that there is concern, but there is always concern about whether policy will stand up to scrutiny and the test of time. We are willing to work with other parties, including Labour, to ensure that this policy position is robust. However, I believe that what we have put in place today, using our devolved planning powers and the licensing powers that we have had since February 2018, is robust. If we need to, though, we will work with others in the chamber to ensure that it is still more robust.