Fracking fight at heart of campaign to break with fossil fuels

-cumbernauld says frack off-fracking-jan 2016-Daniel Quinlan pic

NO FRACKING WAY: opposition at Falkirk demo. (Photo: Daniel Quinlan)

by Kevin McVey, lead RISE candidate, Central Scotland Across the globe on 31 January, people took to the streets to demonstrate their opposition to fracking. Action took place from France to Australia and across the USA. All over Britain, protests were organised to once again express the widespread opposition that exists to this environmentally damaging and dangerous process.

Along with RISE and SSP members, I attended an event in Falkirk. Banners representing groups from places like Cumbernauld, Bonnybridge and Falkirk highlighted the opposition across Central Region to the threat of fracking.

It is no accident that opposition is strong in these areas as it is Central Scotland that, if the environmental polluters have their way, will be amongst those on the frontline of industrial processes that could poison their environment and potentially threaten their health.

The demonstration also reflected the determination of the anti-fracking movement to extend the current moratorium on fracking in Scotland to an outright ban.

It is an issue that provides a litmus test for the Scottish Government in how supine it is prepared to be in the face of the powerful corporate interests that are leading the charge for fracking.

The Scottish Government announced a moratorium on shale gas fracking and coal bed methane extraction last year. Public pressure led them to add the equally unpalatable technique of underground coal gasification.

So far so good, but the messages to say the least are a wee bit mixed. Test drilling has been allowed as part of the 18-month moratorium which means the profiteers will be good to go to scar Scotland for their shareholders.

SNP Energy Minister Fergus Ewing is known to be a friend of big business and reports of meetings between leading figures in the Scottish Government and figures like Jim Ratcliffe of INEOS suggest the moratorium may be more about political expediency than seriously stopping fracking.

Recent reports that fracking will not be discussed at SNP Conference despite 26 resolutions from the party’s local branches on this issue has done nothing to alleviate the fears of many about where the Scottish Government will go with this at the end of the moratorium and the totally inadequate four-month public consultation that will follow.

Opposition to fracking cannot be left to the SNP government. Public opposition must be built to the powerful corporate interests that will attempt to railroad their agenda through in Scotland as they have already done so in England. This is an issue that is about protecting our health and environment.

It is about weaning society away from its addiction to fossil fuel and transitioning our economy away from the dominant carbon driven model of capitalism that is wreaking destruction on our economy.

That requires not only opposition to fracking but an alternative model of a publicly owned energy sector that can provide the necessary resources to provide renewable alternatives to “big oil” and the massive job opportunities that will provide. It requires a massively extended and free public transport system to offer a decent alternative to jumping into the car.

These issues will be at the centre of our campaign in RISE for the 2016 election.

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