Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Frack that

There's been quite a build-up to this afternoon's Scottish Government statement on fracking.

Both the SNP and Labour have been trying to sound tough, with talk of a moratorium, while quietly leaving the door open to fracking in the future - there's money in them thar shale beds after all.

And let's not forget riveting row between SNP MSP Joan McAlpine and energy minister Fergus Ewing on the subject, as lovingly reported by Rob Edwards in the Sunday Herald.

It reminded me of an interview I had with Alex Salmond just before the referendum.

Despite being typically gung-ho about extracting oil and gas from the North Sea, the then First Minister opposed onshore fracking on health grounds, in case it contaminated the water table.

When even a life-long hydrocarbon junkie like Salmond is against fracking, the SNP would be wise to walk away sharpish.

Here's the exchange from 11 September 2014:

Q: Is there a place for fracking in the energy mix of an independent Scotland?

Salmond: “Not onshore, I don’t think. 

"The basic problem with fracking onshore is this: although the seismic stuff [earth tremor risk] doesn’t look to be substantial in its impact, the water table stuff has a lot of questions to be answered.

"I don’t think that’s a good idea in a relatively unpopulated area. 

"But in a densely populated area you’ve got to be able to answer the water table situation. 

"The central North Sea is a different matter. 

"The central North Sea is a great possibility, but at this stage it’s no more than a possibility, but there’s substantial work up the clay basins of the central North Sea." 

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