Dugdale nails Sturgeon’s evasions on fracking

At First Minister’s questions at Holyood on Thursday, Scottish Labour Leader, Kezia Dugdale posed a series of questions on Scottish Government attitudes to fracking to Nicola Sturgeon.

The First Minister’s familiar attack-dog stance of shouting, scolding and ranting over a fence naturally overbore Ms Dugdale’s points in the moment.

But there were no answers to the questions.

All there was to offer was the threadbare political expedient of the moratorium imposed before the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum to pacify the very strong anti-fracking lobby within and without the SNP. The moratorium was later extended again to prevent losing electoral support. The period of moratorium is to be used to gather and evaluate research into aspects of fracking which are genuine matters of concern.

But it is in the public domain that –  just before the announcement of the imposition of a moratorium, Ms Sturgeon had a private and unminuted one-to-one meeting Jim Ratcliffe, owner of the giant Grangemouth refinery through his company, Ineos.

Mr Ratcliffe has invested millions in a major spectrum of fracking licences, many in Scotland and was anxious, pre-indyref 1, to be assured that the Scottish Government would not set its face against this specific method for extracting shale oil and gas.

He made it known later that he had been given such assurances – specifically that the Scottish Government is not opposed to fracking.

He was obviously also assured  – the likely purpose of the meetng – that the moratorium to come was not to be read as an oppositional stance, more a matter of political expediency – which was always obvious.

The reality is, as Mr Ratcliffe has underlined and as the serious players in the Scottish Government [to be counted on two fingers] are well aware, the value of fracking to the Scottish economy and to the local provision of affordable fuels, is such that the government is unlikely to be able to turn away from it in its efforts to make an independent Scotland a clearly viable proposition.

Beyond that, there is the serious issue of where – honestly – reliable energy at volume and at all times is othewise going to come from to keep Scotland’s homes, businesses and industries powered; and to enable growth.

The Ineos chief  – whose refinery at Grangemouth currently depends for its profitability upon imported shale oil and gas, has also warned that the Scottish Government’s delays and prevarications on the fracking issue has cost Scotland ground which it might profitably have seized – in developing expertise marketable elsewhere. Other countries now occupy that ground.

The Dugdale killer issues

These are issues only the blindly partisan nationalist would set aside and seek to interpret differently.

The Scotland Bill, with the fiscal framework now accepted by both governments, devolves to the Scottish Parliament full control of fracking and related matters. Planning consents are devolved to local authorities, of course – in the fist instance.

But in the case of the controversial windpower, the Scottish Government uses its authority to call in and reverse such decision as it thought necessary. So the total and ultimate power to green-light fracking will come from Holyrood.

Worryingly for the environmentalists opposed to fracking, Ms Dugdale revealed that investigations using Freedom of Information [FoI]  had discovered that the Scottish Governemnts environmental agency, SEPA and the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change ‘have agreed to stop minuting conversations on fracking’.

That can only be to prevent FoI requests discovering what they are talking about.

The Labour Leader also revealed that the Scottish Government has commissioned research on decommissioning after fracking; and asked the obvious question: ‘If the First Minister is not planning to frack, why is she preparing for the clean-up?’

A hurried but weak response from a Scottish Government spinner after the parliamentary session insisted that the FM was ‘highly sceptical’ about fracking – but was unable to offer a single example of Ms Sturgeon’s specific concerns.

For the record, For Argyll believes that Scotland will have to – and should – go ahead with fracking.

We see Scottish Labour as equally culpable in putting its own political interests above those of Scotland in going cheaply populist in hardening its opposition to fracking, with an election coming up.

The alternative prospects of an economy unable to grow because it cannot deliver the requisite guaranteed power to support development; and of a society forced backwards in evolutionary terms, able to have light and power only at specific times and also subject to sudden power outages – is inconceivable and unacceptable.

New nuclear is the longer term solution – but that will not be quick. Only fracking will get Scotland over the limbo period where, otherwise, sustained reliable power supplies at the necessary level cannot be guaranteed.

It is far from impossible to licence fracking in the context of viable key environmentally protective requirements which will reduce but do not cripple the profitability of production.

There is a serious and available expert in the field – Professor Paul Younger at Glasgow University – whose voice needs to be heard and listened to on this issue. The examples of what fracking has done for – and will apparently  do for up to a hundred years – for the economies of North America cannot be ignored.

While we are convinced 0f the economic imperative of fracking in the interests of Scotland – and in the context of the permanent contraction of North Sea activity after recovery, we have contempt for the SNP Government’s lack of political courage in explaining the case to its powerful opposition faction; and its failure to be open about its probable intentions, identifying the issues on which it would first have to be satisfied.

A governmental default position of  deception is dishonourable and insupportable.

A bland and unspecific ‘highly sceptical’ butters no parsnips.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • I think Nippy is earning her nickname these days. Does she think the Scottish people are stupid?

    Does she think that we can’t tell the difference between opopsing something (out of principle) and putting in place a moratorium?

    I hope SNP voters realise they are being played here – a moratorium is NOT a principled opposition. It’s a holding tactic until science proves it is perfectly safe – at which point Sturgeon can say, hand on heart ‘I never said I was opposed to fracking, I only dodged the question being saying there was a moratorium’

    Her statement that a moratorium means ‘it ain’t gonna happen’ is a downright lie – and the FM knows this.

    The SNP are falling apart – it’s whether their faithful will realise this and punish them at the polls. The clock is ticking. The lies are mounting.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 21 Thumb down 7

    JB March 5, 2016 6:10 pm Reply
  • Kez is a waste of oxygen.
    So is JB.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 19

    Hugh Jazz March 5, 2016 7:00 pm Reply
    • And yet another meaningful contribution from our resident SNP troll.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 6

      JB March 5, 2016 7:15 pm Reply
      • SNP polls rising!
        Your falling apart with nonsense!

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 22

        Hugh Jazz March 5, 2016 7:25 pm Reply
        • *you’re

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

          JB March 5, 2016 7:38 pm Reply
          • You’re your munure manure,………………..!

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 16

            Hugh Jazz March 5, 2016 9:34 pm
    • HJ – Are you still going to leave the SNP if they give the green light to fracking in Scotland?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

      John M March 6, 2016 4:58 pm Reply
      • The desperation in your fingers,as you type your puerile nonsense,only serves to remind us all that the Yoonion is now in its last Days!
        For that,we can all rejoice!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

        Hugh Jazz March 6, 2016 5:30 pm Reply
        • You’re such a drama queen at times Machmaolain.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

          John M March 6, 2016 6:38 pm Reply
  • It had all the dignity and significance of a stairheid rammy; neither party has any grounds for their position but squabble over it with the vigour of two baldies fighting for a comb. There are no reasons for any further delay or study outside of political sleight of hand to mollify the mass of neo-SNP members who are notably to the left of the party. The 2012 report on fracking, produced jointly by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering for Westminster, the 2014 report by a scientific panel appointed by the Scottish Government, the 2015 report by the Royal Society of Edinburgh; all broadly conclude that fracking is safe provided there is adequate regulatory oversight and at least as environmentally friendly as any other source of gas. Nicola Sturgeon can continue with this charade, as can Kezia Dugdale and Willie Rennie, but it’s politics only, no facts or justification.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

    db March 5, 2016 8:26 pm Reply
  • Surely the heading is wrong, it should read
    When is a moratorium not a moratorium?
    When Dugdale thinks it is something else.

    Does she think it is a sanatorium?
    Or when JB thinks its a hit the SNP opportunity.
    Look at the polls
    SNP 1 AND 2

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 20

    Keitho March 5, 2016 9:25 pm Reply
  • Keitho and Hugh Jazz are they one and the same ?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

    Tom Hayward March 5, 2016 10:23 pm Reply
    • Got it wrong Tom H,
      Regular readers will know my other moniker is Richard ?????????? or Karl or Treefell
      I would love to know and meet NCH, JAZZ, Willie and one or two more.
      What a party we could all have together to celebrate the SNP being returned with a majority after the 5th may election.
      What part of Argyll this might happen in challenges me.
      Keep posting fellow travellers.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 11

      Keitho March 5, 2016 11:47 pm Reply
      • Having only 1 personality , I don’t need several nom de plumes.
        Think there might be a couple of councillors hiding behind aliases on here.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

        Tom Hayward March 6, 2016 12:30 am Reply
        • I say, one really doesn’t wish to be a bore, but one feels obliged to point out that the plural of nomme de plume , is actually nommes de plume. Sorry to be such a pedant, old boy.

          As for the Fracking debate, people in the industry tell me that this has been the preferred method of extracting oil and gas from mature wells in the Noordzee for many years.
          Murdoch’s position on this matter is perfectly valid, but given that land based extraction must be much cheaper, would it not be a suitable means of maintaining exploration skills and service industry employment, until things improve in the offshore sector?
          Presumably the Nipster and her coterie have assessed that it would be an impossibly risky policy to adopt so close to an election. However, post (presumed), landslide, when absolute power corrupts, and the rent needs to be paid, I’d wager we will see a radical policy swerve by the weearrapeepilparty.
          Standing rigidly to attention beneath my portrait of Elizabeth R, I am, yours, back from the other side,

          Eoghainn Cruaidh.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

          HUGH JARDON March 6, 2016 2:19 am Reply
        • Tom,you’re still being a bit creepy!!

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

          Hugh Jazz March 6, 2016 8:11 am Reply
          • Hugh Jazz only the manners I was brought up with , stop me form delivering a well earned blast in your direction,
            Not sure from where you feel you have the right to cast aspersions on my preferences?
            You are Spartacus , no
            You are a man who should be modest, for you have much to be modest about.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

            Tom Hayward March 6, 2016 9:35 am
    • I am Spartacus.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

      Hugh Jazz March 6, 2016 8:08 am Reply
  • If we have to frack under half the homes in Central Scotland, I think it would be crazy to do so when it would be getting done at a loss.
    When the day returns that it can be done at a profit we will have other options opening up for us offshore.
    Have Ineos tied themselves into a long term contract price for the delivery of American fracked feed product? Production is at an all time high as companies are building and filling up storage tanks while prices are so good. Ineos entered the market at a bad time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    Murdoch MacKenzie March 5, 2016 11:17 pm Reply
  • Oh dear, mair drivel about the SNP Baad. And what exactly is wrong with undertaking research into how hydrocarbons are extracted from the earth. There are many many techniques, many of which have been used all around the world. Hydrocarbon extraction, be it coal, or oil or gas, or in fact the extraction of any material from the earth is a highly technical business. Geology, hydrology, chemistry, engineering, ecology, are but a few general headings and they very quickly subdivide into highly technical areas of specialist knowledge and research. But now after years of tertiary recovery in places around the world, including the North Sea, the airhead policians have got something to play airhead politics with. Of course fracking could cause untold environmental damage. Everyone knows that and the legacy of coal mining, or oil spillages is testimony to that. But does that mean there should be no research into resource extraction. Of course not but this is not what the Kez says. She sees research as a perfidious plan by the First Minister to allow fracking under our cities, towns, and villages across our Country despite her not having the slightest idea where hydrocarbon deposits onshore and offshore exist in Scotland. But no it’s yap, yap yap from the wee Dug – nippy’s going to do it – she’s pals with the devil – she wants to destroy our environment – yap yap yap. Well here’s a message to Yappy – Research into hydrocarbon extraction techniques and their environmental impacts is critically important. That together with evidence from experiences elsewhere in the world must be brought together. Our environment is too important for that. To suggest that research should not be undertaken exposes Kezia Dugdale for the absolute political Dodo that she is. Well done the FM and the SG for instructing research because knowledge is king. Not that the doughball Kezia would understand that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

    willie March 6, 2016 11:16 am Reply
  • Willie, HJ,Murdoch. You’ve all been awarded a rubber Duck playing the pipes for being the SNP’s best Trolls.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

    richard March 6, 2016 11:36 am Reply
  • Just putting the umbrella up for the drivel dear Richard. Some might call it a bullshit deflector though. Glad to be of service. And don’t you ever wonder how the Labour and Tories get humped in the Court of public opinion. SNP 1 and 2 old chap. That’s the ticket.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

    willie March 6, 2016 12:41 pm Reply
  • So willie, to summarise your post – once Sturgeon is satisfied fracking can be done without harm to people or the environment, she’ll give the go-ahead – yes?

    Don’t waffle- that’s what you expect will happen – yes?

    Out with it!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    JB March 6, 2016 2:05 pm Reply
  • Absolutely on the mark, Newsie!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

    Andrew Argyle March 6, 2016 3:30 pm Reply
    • Skid mark!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

      Hugh Jazz March 6, 2016 8:27 pm Reply

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