Scotland’s environmental regulation is not strong enough to prevent fracking causing climate pollution, an expert report for the Scottish Government has concluded.
The report, one of six on fracking and other forms of unconventional oil and gas published today, was written by the UK advisory Committee on Climate Change. The current regulatory framework for controlling greenhouse gas emissions from the industry “lacks clarity over the responsibilities and roles of the various actors and may have gaps relating to regulation of emissions to air including fugitive methane emissions,” it said.
Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas, that can leak from fracking wells. The committee warned that fracking on a significant scale “is not compatible with Scottish climate targets unless three tests are met”.
The first was that emissions must be “strictly limited”, it said. Fossil fuel consumption must also stay in line with Scotland’s targets to cut climate pollution, and any emissions that do occur will have to be offset by reductions elsewhere in the Scottish economy.
A report by Health Protection Scotland has also concluded that there were “inadequacies” in the current regulatory framework. “The evidence considered was inadequate as a basis to determine whether development of shale oil and gas or coal bed methane would pose a risk to public health, if permitted in Scotland,” it said.
The four other reports published by the Scottish Government covered seismic activity, transport, decommissioning and economic impacts. The energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse promised to launch a public consultation in January with the aim of making a decision on whether or not fracking should go ahead in the second half of 2017.
Read The Ferret’s series of fracking stories here.