Energy minister Fergus Ewing has announced a moratorium on granting planning consents for fracking developments in Scotland to allow a full public consultation on the controversial issue.
Mr Ewing also announced a programme of further research would be carried out into the technique to look at planning, environmental regulation and the impact on public health.
Environmental campaigners had called on the Scottish Government to rule out hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, for shale gas after a move to introduce a UK-wide moratorium was heavily defeated at Westminster on Monday.
Holyrood currently has control over planning, with powers over onshore oil and gas licensing and mineral access rights due to be transferred as part of the Smith Commission agreement on further devolution.
Making a statement to MSPs at Holyrood, Mr Ewing said: “I want to ensure that the voices of the communities likely to be most affected are heard, and are heard in a more formal and structured way.
“I am therefore announcing today that in addition to the technical work I’ve referred to on planning, environmental regulation and upon assessing the impact on public health, Scottish ministers will also launch a full public consultation on unconventional oil and gas extraction.
“This will allow everyone with a view on this issue to feed it into government, a logical next step in the cautious and evidence-based approach we’ve demonstrated to date and an example of this Government’s commitment to community engagement.
“It also means the longer-term decisions on unconventional oil and gas will be informed not just by technical assessments but also by fuller understanding of public opinion.”
He added: “Given the importance of this work, it would be inappropriate to allow any planning consents in the meantime.
“I’m therefore announcing today a moratorium on the granting of planning consents for all unconventional oil and gas developments.
“This moratorium will continue until such time as the work I’ve referred to today has been completed.
“I will keep Parliament advised of the progress of that work, a direction will be sent to all Scottish planning authorities today to give effect to that policy.”
He continued: “This Scottish Government has taken a responsible, cautious and evidence-based approach to unconventional oil and gas extraction and my statement today sends the strongest possible message that we will continue to do so.
“When we assume responsibility for onshore licencing of unconventional oil and gas, rest assured that… I will deliver a robust, consistent and complementary licensing and planning system that will be developed through the evidence through our consultation and further research announced today.”
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