Friends of the Airth

frackBy Mike Small

Victory is sweet.

We need to complete the nailing process but basically Fracking is Dead in Scotland and it represents a huge victory for all of us in protection of our communities and our environment.

Where does this leave Ineo and their 729 sq miles of fracking exploration licences? Hopefully in an expensive shambles.

It’s not done yet but we now we can  finish the job.

Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“Fergus Ewing’s announcement today is huge victory for the communities, individuals and groups who have been campaigning to stop this dirty industry in Scotland. This moratorium is a very big nail in the coffin for the unconventional gas and fracking industry in Scotland. Any serious examination of the mounting evidence will inevitably lead to a ban. The Scottish Government has acted decisively today to protect communities across the country and the environment from this unnecessary industry. It is great news that Dart Energy’s plans for commercial coalbed methane at Airth are included in this moratorium. The Government’s decision today is testament to the perseverance of people and communities around the country who have tirelessly fought this industry in recent years.”

I’m frankly bored of the tribal claims and counter-claims about who backed what and when. It’s all spin. But who really who cares? This is a victory for us all and I’m not convinced at any party had a complete picture or a homogenous view on this, other than the Greens, who were totally against, and the Tories, who were totally for it.

Joan McAlpine from the SNP said:

“The SNP Government has acted where Labour has failed nationally and locally. Their local councillors did not speak up for the Canonbie villagers and attacked me when I asked for a council review into the circumstances surrounding the granting of planning permission for boreholes, a matter now being considered by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

 I particularly welcome news that the Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod will issue an instruction to SEPA to desist from granting any further CAR licences.  This is something I called for in advance of the statement. These licenses, issued by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, are required for every borehole. A moratorium on them was the only way to stop drilling in Canonbie, where council planning permission has already been given and an exploration licence already awarded by the UK government.”

So how did we win it? Here are four reasons:

1) In the post-indyref phase the reality that there’s still a live, vibrant, fully-networked movement out there communicating and mobilising terrifies politicians. Even if people aren’t going to vote Green at the General Election they’re going to ACT Green when such a spectacularly stupid ideas as fracking comes along.

2) If we had focus in the referendum campaign they have focus as the General Election looms. What else can we get them to concede in the next few weeks?

3) As the world becomes more and more chaotic and complex politicians know less and less what to do. In a post-ideological world we’re all becoming Kaospilots. Most of the time they don’t know what to do till we tell them. As Uffe Elbæk has written:

“The old icebergs of state and corporation are dissolving into a fluid sea where action only becomes meaningful in concert with others. The waves of change demand interconnections, because we know all of us together are smarter than any one of us on our own. Today the world and our ability to shape it is literally in our hands. We can criticise, disrupt, collaborate and share at the touch of a few keys. Transparency and accountability rule. We rule; but only if politics changes too. For the new rules of this epochal shift go with the grain of a good society precisely because in a flattened world, we talk and participate as equals. That’s why the post-1945 social settlement could never hold, because it was built on well-meaning but hierarchical institutions.”

Uffe Elbæk is a Danish MP, initiator of the green party, the Alternative, and former culture minister. He founded the school for innovative leadership,  Kaospiloterne, (KaosPilots) in 1991 and will be speaking at the next Nordic Horizons (5 March). Book here.

4) Conviction politics is back. “Hope over fear” actually makes sense.

As George Monbiot wrote today:

“Perhaps there was a time when this counsel of despair made sense. No longer. The lamps are coming on all over Europe. As in South America, political shifts that seemed impossible a few years earlier are now shaking the continent. We knew that another world was possible. Now, it seems, another world is here: the sudden death of the neoliberal consensus. Any party that claims to belong to the left but does not grasp this is finished.

SyrizaPodemos, Sinn Féin, the SNP; now a bright light is shining in England too, as the Green party stokes the radical flame that Labour left to gutter. On Tuesday morning, its membership in England and Wales passed 50,000; a year ago it was fewer than 15,000.”

Change can happen. How do we know? We just saw it today. The infectious nature of our democratic revival is sealing south. That is a great thing but it shouldn’t be allowed to slow or dilute the nature of real change we know is needed here.

Comments (29)

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  1. June Stewart says:

    Excellent news from Ewing Fergus and well done to everyone involved in making their voices heard on the Fracking issue. Again proving it is the “walk not just the talk” that counts.

  2. Gordie says:

    Fair comment and welcome statement from the Energy Minister. Bored or not I cannot help but get pished off when I hear folk misrepresenting events for own advantage.

    On the face of it good news though

  3. Who says protests don’t work? Brilliant outcome after standing the rain at Grangemouth with Moira only days ago.

  4. Rosie says:

    This is a fine day for Scotland above and below the ground! Thanks to all the people who showed up at events and those who spoke up – a good legacy from the Yes campaign: the people can speak!

    Thanks also for getting Uffe Elbæk’s statement up – lyrical and significant encouragement – and Nordic Horizons’ events are well worth going to.

  5. johnmcgurk66 says:

    I think for the first time in my seventy three years people are really starting to understand what people power really is . It is not saying we the little people ,cannot change things , it is about we the people standing together and driving the change and I thinkthis is only the start.

  6. Brian Powell says:

    Good, but interestingly I commented some time ago that, as the No politicians had nothing in terms of energy, commitment, ideas, that they would try to highjack that in the Yes movement.
    Now we see it with Kezia Dugdale and Women for Independence on the prison, and Jim Murphy on the fracking.
    Even the Daily record having a photo of the two sisters on the front page who stood against the thugs in George Sq, with story tat they wouldn’t be prosecuted! It was if the DR had somehow been on their side instead of the thugs.
    We shouldn’t ignore this, they will keep trying.

    1. ELAINE FRASER says:

      The way I look at it Bella, The National ,Wings, are now setting agenda in terms of what is and isn’t news
      and the DR and others are having to play catch up . I hope to see more of this copy cat behaviour

      if we can set the agenda so much the better.

      I also think our changing reading habits and the way folk access their news and information should be casually dropped into everyday conversation. …. let folk begin to feel they are missing out on something ( they are!)
      And if haven’t heard of it just say ‘Really ?!’

      No one likes to feel ‘out of the loop’ or ‘soooo last year!’

      1. MBC says:

        Agree. We are changing the narrative, shaping and leading the narrative. We just have to get them to accept indy too, but we are edging closer every time they accept more radical people powered politics.

  7. bringiton says:

    The communities where this activity was being proposed were going to have to bear all of the risks and share few if any of the benefits,so a good decision in that respect.
    If the shale gas from the USA dries up,which is what OPEC are aiming for,then Ineos are going to have a major headache with Grangemouth.
    I imagine the threat to close the plant will be resurrected and some hard decisions are going to have to be made.

    1. MBC says:

      It isn’t a problem to bring oil by tanker for refining at Grangemouth. It’s irrelevant to Grangemouth that less is coming from the North Sea these days. It can come from anywhere. The refinery was set up in the 1920s. It was refining oil for 50 years before any arrived from the North Sea. The value of the plant to Ratcliffe or anyone in that business is its technical skills base. Iran still lacks the capacity to refine oil to this day.

      What Ratcliffe is primarily interested in though is the associated petrochemical works rather than the refinery. There are two plants, two different industries at Grangemouth. Refinery and petrochemicals. They go hand in hand. Ratcliffe is a chemist turned businessman. The waste product of refining is used for petrochemicals.

  8. patmctavish says:

    I am worried about this as a moratorium is only a delay not the final outcome so I do not think we can congratulate ourselves yet.

    1. maxi kerr says:

      You are correct,this is not over yet. This lot think they can do anything they want with Scotland…And right now they probally can!. It is up to us to keep vigilante.

  9. Lochside says:

    Fergus Ewing is a Trojan horse chewing on the ermine hem of the Duke of Buccleugh. Don’t be fooled. The SNP must not retreat from stopping Fracking full stop. What next?…a moratorium on Trident?

    1. Brian Fleming says:

      I don’t think so, Lochside. I reckon Fergus Ewing is doing what he can. He can’t ban it outright until the power over fracking is devolved (if that ever happens) or the SNP get a new (and hopefully increased) mandate at a general election (Westminster and/or Holyrood). Once they have the power secured, I expect an outright ban on fracking to follow.

      1. iancowan2 says:

        Lochside is right: Ewing could certainly have banned fracking permanently using planning powers, just as was done with new nuclear plants, but he will take any opportunity to hide behind a so-called lack of powers and blame Westminster. Being a fracking supporter, his announcement this week was made through gritted teeth, because he has been defeated by a popular movement within the newly empowered Scotland and parts of the SNP. His only consolation was that he managed to avoid the total humiliation of having to ban it completely.

  10. Phil says:

    Yes – a welcome announcement from Mr Ewing. But, until the great glass towers on 5th Avenue, Wall Street, etc., are posting huge VACANCY signs the corporates who run the continental-sized shows within which we live will continue to do just that – control all our economies.

  11. Paddy S Hogg says:

    Excellent Mike, as always. It is great news. A milestone. I was delighted to recite the poem you published on Bella, Standing in the Breach, at the Grangemouth rally on Burns Day and hear Dr Nixon FOE, Alison Johnston (Greens) and Prof John Robertson (our Scottish Chomsky) and the other speakers. Moira was great with keeping it running so well.

    I am not quite so positive about reigning back the rapacious murderous blood-leeching destructive world tentacles of Neo Liberal economics, where the 1% use debt as a weapon to control and manipulate economies and nations. We could do with inviting Prof Michael Hudson to Scotland to speak to a lot of our politicians in order that they can discern between corrupted greed driven madness and real economic development that might lead to sustainable jobs in a safe environment. So many people dont seem able to tell the difference between genuine economic growth based on production of goods and Neo Liberal financial hype based on an engineered property asset hype in London.

  12. Stevie says:

    Reblogged this on The People's Republic of Clydebank and commented:
    Excellent news, and this piece has some insight into how we’re now placed

  13. Lee Kindness says:

    Underground. Coal. Gasification. Firth of Forth… Dead?

  14. David says:

    Just a shame the things Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF get up to elsewhere

  15. Brian says:

    Great news – now on to Land Reform

  16. Ali says:

    Couldn’t take it seriously past the opening claim. Fracking dead? Behave

  17. Paddy S Hogg says:

    Lee – my assessment of underground Coal Gasification:and why we need to push for Greener Cleaner energy NOW: (part of a larger poem)

    Underground gasification?
    Hell’s-furnace ablow oor nation!
    Psychotic vampires’, slash-an’-burn
    Scotia’s ashes – pit in an urn!
    Nae carbon capture tae restrain!
    E’en Satan isnae sae insane!
    Mammon’s venal slaves, turn hither
    Ye’ve tint yer Reason a’ thegither!
    Beyond the Gates o’ Hell they’d dare.
    Is naewhar sacred ony mair?
    Greed’s hellish legions pour an’ gore
    They’d buy and sell the earth’s core!
    Investment shares and dividends
    Oor assets in their pockets end!!!
    Oor rights stripped back by corrupt laws
    The profit, theirs – we pay the loss!
    Grand theft on a national scale
    Gung-ho gangsters ‘flat out for shale’!
    See it! hear it! an’ smell its breath:
    The Neo-Liberal kiss o death!

    Beneath the Heaven’s perfect blue
    There’s energy we can renew:
    Ae greatest source is licht an’ heat
    Fir solar rays oor sun’s replete
    It’s free, it’s oors, sae panels build:
    The jobs await – oor people skilled.
    There’s birnies row an’ river’s flow
    There’s tidal waves an’ winds that blow
    A’ this energy IS FOR FREE
    The win’, the river, tide an’ sea
    Its time tae harness Nature’s power
    An’ gauge her kilowatts per hour.
    Enhance electrification
    Scotland’s wind an’ hydro-nation
    Invest in what is safe an’ green
    Fir climate justice, carbon clean.

  18. Reblogged this on Common Weal Fife and commented:
    Mike Small on the anti-Fracking developments (from Bella Caledonia)

  19. Lawrence says:

    Fracking Dead? Don’t think so, where there`s money there`s a way.
    It might be denied locally but the application will just be kicked all the way up the chain until it reaches Whitehall then it will pass.
    Energy isn’t devolved yet.

    1. iancowan2 says:

      Lawrence, you are right to be cynical, but the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (ha!) can do no more to facilitate the Airth development, having issued a licence under the Petroleum Act (about 10 years ago). But planning powers are completely devolved, so the planning decision will be made by Scottish Ministers (if they lift the moratorium first). The only way London could be involved is if a judicial review reached the UK Supreme Court, but that is unlikely.

  20. JBS says:

    I like Airth. And the Dunmore Pineapple is good to visit on a pleasant, sunny day.

    No, I don’t work for VisitScotland, I’m just saying…

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