Date lodged: 25 March 2019
To ask the Scottish Government when it will make a final decision on unconventional oil and gas.
Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 26 March 2019
On 3 October 2017, the Scottish Government set out a preferred position that it does not support onshore unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland. The preferred policy position is subject to a statutory Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and other assessments before any policy can be adopted.
An Environmental Report for the SEA of the Scottish Government’s preferred policy position was published in October 2018, alongside the preferred policy position statement and a partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA). Views were invited on the contents of these documents during an eight-week consultation from October to December 2018.
We are grateful to all those who responded to this consultation. The Scottish Government is committed to transparency and public engagement on this important issue. The consultation responses received have led the Scottish Government to form the view that it would be helpful to provide some further clarification on a number of points raised in response to the consultation documents, specifically regarding the preferred policy position and its objectives. We are also taking the opportunity to update our position on the reasonable alternatives to the preferred policy position which were considered as part of the SEA process.
The Scottish Government is publishing an addendum to the SEA Environmental Report, the preferred policy position statement and the partial BRIA, and wishes to invite further comments on the points covered. Responses to the addendum will be considered in detail prior to a final policy position being reached.
It is anticipated that the addendum and related consultation documents will be published for consultation following the Easter Parliamentary recess. In line with the initial consultation in late 2018, views will be invited over a period of eight weeks, and the responses analysed prior to publication. Our final policy on unconventional oil and gas will be confirmed and adopted as soon as possible after this process is complete.
We are appreciative of the contributions submitted and time taken by those who have already considered the contents of the SEA Environmental Report, the preferred policy position statement and the partial BRIA. We are mindful of the points raised by all stakeholders in response to the 2018 consultation, and are keen to continue our dialogue with the public and stakeholders on this important issue.