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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 recognise that Claudia Beamish and other colleagues across the chamber have taken a great interest in the subject. I very much appreciate the bipartisan nature of the engagement that I have had with her throughout the process to keep each other informed of our respective plans.

I respect the fact that she has been consistent in her opposition to fracking. Through an evidence-based process, we have reached a conclusion that I can see she is happy with.

To reassure Claudia Beamish, because she makes an important point, I re-emphasise that our policy of no support will be reflected in the next draft iteration of the NPF—NPF4—which is expected in the 2020-21 parliamentary year. I cannot guarantee that it will be completed because, as she will understand, it is the Parliamentary Bureau that determines chamber business. However, with our support and, I hope, the support of Labour, we can make sure that NPF4 proceeds to the chamber and is heard. I am sure that Kevin Stewart will be keen to engage with Claudia Beamish on that matter.

The provisions of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 mean that ministers cannot adopt the national planning framework unless Parliament approves it, and, once adopted, it will form part of the development plan. In practice, and as I said in my statement, once the national planning framework has been approved, no Government will be able to change it to support unconventional oil and gas without the backing of a majority in the Parliament. I hope that that will give some reassurance to Claudia Beamish, who I know is passionate about the issue, that we are sincere in our effort to reflect in NPF4 the meaning of her amendment and to follow through on our commitment.