SCOTLAND is on course to become one of the toughest anti-fracking areas in the world after MSPs voted overwhelmingly to ban it.
The historic vote 91 to 28 at Holyrood included even tougher ties than had immediately been proposed in the wave of fierce campaigning.
Because the Scottish Government have also vowed to look at ways it might be able to outlaw it for good.
And in a further victory for campaigners, ministers will ask for new licensing powers for onshore oil and gas to be transferred from Westminster.
Green groups hailed the move, Tories hated it.
But after Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse announced an indefinite extension of a moratorium on fracking – he went even further.
The vote now uses planning processes to prevent fracking happening but stops short of being a legal ban. That is what will now be looked at too.
Scottish Tories who have condemned it as both “ludicrous” and “anti-science”.
At Holyrood Mr Wheelhouse said the ban been a “carefully considered and robust decision”.
ButTory Murdo Fraser said: “Is it this government’s abandonment of evidence-led policy making? Is it it’s contempt for science?
“Or the sheer hypocrisy from a party that in the past has been happy to champion Scotland’s hydrocarbon industry but now simply wants us to reply in imports of fracked gas from elsewhere in the world, wherever that may be?”
He also claimed the minority Scottish Government – who needs support to get their forthcoming Budget through parliament – were “dancing to the tune of the Green Party”.
The Scottish Green Party had tried to bring forward a previous ban on fracking through Lothians MSP Alison Johnstone – but it was defeated in a vote after rival partie sthen refused to back her.
Scottish Greens energy and environemt spokesman Mark Ruskell, Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, said: “This is an historic moment and a turning point in our story
“Greens have opposed fracking from the start and we welcome the consensus that has grown between progressive parties on the issue in this parliament over the years.
“Fracking is the toxic fag end of the fossil fuel age and it was right that the Scottish Government brought in a temporary moratorium on decisions through a letter to planning authorities, but this would only require the stroke of a future minister’s pen to undo.
“Putting the ban into the National Planning Framework will ensure that the democratic will of parliament will remain, even if there is a change of government.
He added: “It will put the ban on the same footing as the ban on new nuclear power stations, providing direction on a national strategic issue, extending the ban beyond the life of this current parliament while giving guidance to local authorities for the next fifteen to twenty years.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Head of Campaigns Mary Church said: “Today’s vote ends any hopes the industry had of fracking in Scotland.
“This is a huge victory for the anti-fracking movement, particularly for communities on the frontline who have been fighting for a ban these last six years. The ban will protect Scotland’s people and the environment from this dirty industry and boost the global fight against fracking.”
Want to learn more? Read: Fracking – ban fracking now
Image credits: Shaun Milne