In December 2013 the Entirely unelected House of Lords took the powers over energy back from Scotland as part of the Energy Act 2013. In July 2014 a number of licences were granted for fracking by the UK Government, something that previously had been completely blocked by the Scottish Government. These licences allow for (as I understand it) exploratory drilling to take place to identify suitable sites for the extraction of gas.
The vast majority of these licences are being granted in the Central belt of Scotland and Airdrie is right in the middle of the land which as been identified as the most viable.
This should be of particular concern to those in the villages surrounding Airdrie and Coatbridge. The likes of Plains, Caldercruix, Greengairs, Glenmavis, Salsburgh, Chapelhall amongst others were built on the back of the coal industry and are highly likely to be in areas likely to be targeted.
Fracking is, despite the words of those within the industry, unproven. The Scottish Government has not ruled it out and is watching closely to monitor the effects before making any judgement. The Labour Party abstained on the Infrastructure Bill on 8th December which effectively gave the Conservatives free rein to drive the bill through. The key to preventing fracking in Scotland now has to be ensuring that local authorities do not grant permission for fracking to begin. This is now the only stumbling block to widespread fracking across the country.
In New South Wales in Australia a 2km exlusion zone from any inhabited dwelling has been agreed. Friends of The Earth Scotland are calling on the Scottish Government to ensure that this is introduced in Scotland. This would go some way to protecting much of the targeted areas not only from development but the effect of being in close proximity to sources of emissions.
I will be in Airdrie tomorrow (13th December) with a petition calling on all of our local representatives to put the health of the people of Airdrie and the local environment first, and to ask them to support the implementation of the 2km rule within the Airdrie and Shotts area. If you can drop by (outside Royal Bank of Scotland) we’d be glad to talk to you and hope that you will sign the petition.