SNP MPs defend ‘wait and see’ fracking stance

Stuart McDonald MP with anti-fracking protesters in Cumbernauld earlier this year.
Stuart McDonald MP with anti-fracking protesters in Cumbernauld earlier this year.

East Dunbartonshire’s two SNP MPs insist the Scottish Government’s “wait and see” policy on fracking is fully justified, despite a barrage of demands for action.

East Dunbartonshire MP John Nicolson says that as “a passionate environmentalist” he will take a lot of convincing, but that he wants to see the evidence being gathered first.

And Kirkintilloch East MP Stuart McDonald, who supports local anti-fracking campaigners, insists the Scottish Government process is the right one “one hundred per cent”- and should take as long as it has to.

However opposition politicians argue the Holyrood administration is stalling on key decisions on unconventional gas extraction until after next May’s Holyrood election, while a group of fellow party members have formed a group called SMAUG - SNP Members Against Unconventional Gas - calling for an outright ban on fracking.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has now said a timetable for the long-awaited public consultation on the issue will be published on October 10, but this has fuelled further complaints that the wider issue won’t be properly addressed until after the election.

John Wilson, Green Party list MSP for Central Scotland, said: “It is simply unacceptable that parliamentary questions can remain unanswered for months.

“We need to know when the public health impact assessment will take place, if sufficient funds will be allocated to ensure it is a worthwhile exercise, and who will carry it out.”

However Stuart McDonald says claims that the SNP government is stalling are themselves an election ploy, and says he’s “perfectly relaxed” about both SNP policy and the debate.

He’s personally opposed to fracking locally, but says he is content to wait until detailed evidence is produced to allow an informed public consultation on the wider issue to take place.

John Nicolson said: “ I think the Scottish Government is right to exercise extreme caution on fracking, which is why I was pleased to see the moratorium.

“I believe strongly in evidence based policy making. As a passionate environmentalist I will need a lot of convincing that fracking can be a safe, green, and reliable source of energy in Scotland. I await the evidence.”