Plans to exploit onshore gas in Scotland by mining coalbed methane or fracking look doomed after the SNP and Labour both moved to ban them yesterday.
The SNP disclosed that its MPs in Westminster would be voting for a moratorium on both technologies to make sure that no licences are granted before powers are devolved. If agreed, the moratorium could last between 18 and 30 months.
Labour said that if it won the Scottish election in 2016 it would suspend coalbed methane and fracking developments until environmental and health safeguards were in place. Projects would only go ahead if approved by local referendums.
Neither party is promising to completely rule out developing onshore gas, but both have significantly shifted their positions in response to growing public concern. The moves were welcomed by environmental groups – though they pointed out that the Scottish government still had to make its position clear.
A major application to extract coalbed methane at Airth, near Falkirk, will soon have to be determined by Scottish ministers, while the Duke of Buccleuch is pursuing a similar development at Canonbie in Dumfries and Galloway. Both are fiercely opposed by local communities.