Scottish Government says no to fracking

Consultation shows overwhelming public support for ban.

The Scottish Government has announced that it will not support the development of Unconventional Oil and Gas in Scotland, meaning there is an effective ban on fracking in Scotland.

Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse told MSPs the decision followed an extensive period of evidence gathering, public engagement, and dialogue on the issue. 

The Scottish Government’s cautious, evidence-led approach to unconventional oil and gas included a four-month public consultation which received over 60,000 responses.

Overall, approximately 99% of the consultation responses were opposed to fracking and fewer than 1% were in favour.

Those opposed to fracking emphasised the potential for significant, long-lasting negative impacts on communities, health, environment, and climate; expressed scepticism about the ability of regulation to mitigate negative impacts; and were unconvinced about the value of any economic benefit or the contribution of unconventional oil and gas to Scotland’s energy mix.

To put today’s announcement into immediate effect, the Scottish Government has now written to local authorities across Scotland to make clear that the Directions that gave effect to the moratorium will remain in place.  A parliamentary vote will take place in the near future followed by a Strategic Environmental Assessment.

Mr Wheelhouse said:

“The Scottish Government will not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland.

“Having taken account of the interests of the environment, our economy, public health and the overwhelming majority of public opinion, the decision I am announcing today means fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland.

“We have undertaken one of the most far-reaching examinations of unconventional oil and gas ever carried out by any government, anywhere.

“We have not taken the process or the decision lightly. At every stage we have created opportunities for discourse and debate.

“The views expressed through our consultation demonstrated that communities across Scotland, particularly in densely populated areas where developments could potentially take place, are not convinced there is a strong national economic argument when balanced against the risk and disruption they anticipate in areas, such as transport, pollution, crucially, their health and wellbeing. 

“It is clear that people across Scotland remain firmly opposed to fracking – this government has listened and taken decisive action.

“Scotland’s chemicals industry has conveyed strong views on the potential impact of shale on the sector. I want to be clear that regardless of our position on unconventional oil and gas, our support for Scotland’s industrial base and manufacturing is unwavering.

“Manufacturing and the chemicals industry continue to play a crucial role in the Scottish economy. The Scottish Government understands that a supportive fiscal regime, affordable energy, access to the right skills, and good infrastructure are all essential to future success. That is why this government will continue to support industry in a range of different ways in the months and years to come.”


In line with statutory requirement, as with the previous announcement on Underground Coal Gasification, a Strategic Environmental Assessment will be undertaken, following a Parliamentary vote, to assess the impact of the government’s position.

On 3 October 2017, the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy confirmed in a statement to the Scottish Parliament that the Scottish Government will not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland, and that the Planning Directions which gave effect to the moratorium in January 2015 will remain in place. Full text of the Parliamentary statement is available.

On 31 January 2017 the Scottish Government launched a comprehensive public consultation, Talking “Fracking”, on unconventional oil and gas, which closed on 31 May. 

The consultation, which invited views on the evidence on the potential impacts of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland and on the future of the industry, received more than 60,000 responses, including a number of campaigns.  The consultation responses have been independently analysed and were published on 03 October 2017.

A report of the independent analysis is publicly available.

The Scottish Government compiled a comprehensive evidence-base into UOG (hydraulic fracturing and coal-bed methane) to examine the potential environmental, health and economic impacts and to inform our evidence-led approach. This included commissioning a report by an Independent Expert Scientific Panel, and commissioning a series of research projects to explore certain issues in more detail.

The published reports can be viewed on the Scottish Government website.


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