The Scottish Government’s policy on fracking is not changing despite the ban being lifted south of the border, a minister has said.
Scottish energy secretary Michael Matheson reiterated his Government’s opposition to new fracking licences.
It came after UK energy secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said the existing pause on fracking is being lifted in England to examine new potential sources of gas.
Liz Truss’s Government has vowed to explore all avenues to improve energy security in response to the war in Ukraine.
Matheson tweeted shortly after the announcement on Thursday morning.
He said: “To be clear – this policy change does not apply in Scotland.
“Fracking can only happen here if licences are issued by the Scottish Government and we do not intend to issue any licences.”
A spokesman for the First Minister later said there is no review point for the Scottish Government’s position on fracking.
The granting of licences for fracking are a devolved matter, meaning the policy will not impact Scotland unless Scottish ministers agree to it.
The Scottish Government has repeatedly adopted a policy position of no support for fracking, following a moratorium on the issue.
Earlier in September, Nicola Sturgeon was asked to clarify her Government’s position on fracking during First Minister’s Questions.
She said: “This is a devolved matter and our position is unchanged.
“We do not intend to grant licences for fracking.”
The Government has confirmed it is lifting the moratorium on fracking in England, arguing it will help bolster energy security following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Rees-Mogg said: “In light of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of energy, strengthening our energy security is an absolute priority, and – as the Prime Minister said – we are going to ensure the UK is a net energy exporter by 2040.
“To get there we will need to explore all avenues available to us through solar, wind, oil and gas production – so it’s right that we’ve lifted the pause to realise any potential sources of domestic gas.”
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said lifting the ban meant future applications will be considered “where there is local support”.
Developers will need to have the necessary licences, permissions and consents in place before they can commence operations.
The Government also published the British Geological Survey’s scientific review into shale gas extraction, which was commissioned earlier this year.
BEIS said the review “recognised that we have limited current understanding of UK geology and onshore shale resources, and the challenges of modelling geological activity in relatively complex geology sometimes found in UK shale locations”.
The Government argued that the limited understanding should not be a barrier to fracking, but instead a reason to drill more wells to gather more data.
“It is clear that we need more sites drilled in order to gather better data and improve the evidence base, and we are aware that some developers are keen to assist with this process,” a BEIS statement said.
“Lifting the pause on shale gas extraction will enable drilling to gather this further data, building an understanding of UK shale gas resources and how we can safely carry out shale gas extraction in the UK where there is local support.”
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