1. Finalisation of the Scottish Government’s Policy Position on Unconventional Oil and Gas in Scotland
1.1.1 The Scottish Government has taken a cautious, evidence-led approach to considering unconventional oil and gas (‘UOG’) in Scotland. On 3 October 2017, the Scottish Government set out a preferred policy position, subject to statutory assessments, that it does not support onshore unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland. Independent consultants LUC were commissioned to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Scottish Government’s preferred policy position (PPP) and an Environmental Report was published in October 2018, alongside an updated PPP statement and a partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA). Views were invited on the contents of these documents (‘the 2018 consultation documents’) between October and December 2018. A Consultation Addendum was published on 30 April 2019and further comments sought. A finalised policy position of no support for the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland published on 3 October 2019.
1.1.2 As required by the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 (‘the 2005 Act’), this Post Adoption Statement sets out how the SEA and consultation responses have been taken into account in finalising the policy position.
1.2.1 The PPP statement published for consultation in October 2018 discussed the factors put before Ministers which led to their stating their preferred policy position. These included concerns over the insufficiency of epidemiological evidence on health impacts. It also referenced the conclusion by the Committee on Climate Change in its report for the Scottish Government on unconventional oil and gas, that unconventional oil and gas extraction in Scotland would make meeting our existing climate change targets more challenging.
1.2.2 Added to that, the Scottish Government has acknowledged the concerns conveyed by communities, particularly in areas where developments could take place, who have yet to be convinced there is a strong enough case of national economic importance for onshore unconventional oil and gas development when balanced against the risk and disruption they anticipate on matters such as transport impacts, risks of pollution, and on their general health and wellbeing.
1.2.3 The Consultation Addendum built on the October 2018 consultation by providing further clarification on a number of points raised by respondents, including on the PPP and its objectives. The addendum also updated the Scottish Government’s position on the reasonable alternatives to the PPP which were considered as part of the SEA process.