Angus MP Mike Weir has welcomed the announcement from the UK government that powers over the granting of licences for onshore oil and gas exploration are to be devolved to the Scottish Government.
It was also confirmed that Scotland will be excluded from the fracking clauses in the present Infrastructure Bill.
Mr Weir has strongly opposed the fracking clauses in the bill and has repeatedly called upon the granting of licences to be devolved. He commented: “I and my colleagues have repeatedly called for the transfer of these powers and this commitment is welcome, although the timescale still causes some concern.
“The proposal to allow drilling under peoples homes without consent was always ridiculous and I am very pleased that this will not proceed in Scotland. I have, however, previously pointed out that the law relating to fracking and access rights is far from clear and these uncertainties still remain and need to be addressed.
He added: “The transfer of the licensing powers to the Scottish Parliament will mean that all powers relating to fracking will rest in Scotland. It is unfortunate, however, that the UK government have refused to countenance transfer of these powers ahead of the General Election. This means there remains areas of uncertainty, not least that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will retain the power to issue licences until such time as the powers are transferred.
“The SNP have called upon the UK government to guarantee that no further licences will be issues between now and the transfer of powers but they have declined to do so. There also remains the uncertainty about the future of licences that have already been granted and whether they will be able to be removed or altered by the Scottish Government after the transfer of powers. It would make much more sense to immediately transfer all powers over fracking to Scotland so that these matters can be dealt with now.”