for Sunday Herald, 17 August 2014
The UK government’s minister for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael, is under fire for backing a “Tory raid on people’s property rights” to help fracking companies.
The Scottish energy minister, Fergus Ewing, is writing to Carmichael demanding that he distance himself from Westminster proposals to allow firms to frack for shale gas under land without asking the owner’s permission.
The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) last week completed a public consultation on fracking, a technique for extracting gas from deep underground by fracturing rocks. It wants to give developers easier access to reserves help kick-start fracking in the UK.
But the Scottish government has lodged an objection to the proposals, and accused UK ministers of pursuing a “gung-ho approach” to the exploitation of underground gas. Scottish ministers, however, have not ruled out allowing shale gas to be fracked north of the border.
Ewing is responding to an invitation on television from Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, to get in touch with any concerns. “This is a key test for Alastair Carmichael – will he back the Scottish government in supporting Scottish householders against this Tory raid on people’s property rights?” Ewing said.