Cumbernauld Councillor presses Scottish Government for fracking moratorium

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 20:53 on 18 December 2014.
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Councillor Griffin said the Scottish Government should declare a national moratorium. Picture: Scott Campbell for Cumbernauld Media. .
A CUMBERNAULD Councillor has come out fighting for a moratorium on fracking – but says that the Scottish Government should declare it.

Stephanie Griffin, a Labour Councillor for Cumbernauld South has told Cumbernauld Media that the North Lanarkshire Council Labour Group “backed” the concept of a moratorium at today’s meeting, but explained why she believes that the Scottish Government should declare one.

Councillor Griffin’s comments come in the wake of an article published on Cumbernauld Media immediately after the vote, this evening (18 December), which confirmed that SNP Councillors David Baird and Paddy Hogg had had their motions thrown out, due to the authority’s ‘six-month rule’, while the motion from Green Councillor Frances McGlinchey and Cumbernauld Independent Councillors’ Alliance member, Alan O’Brien was amended and passed. 

During the course of what attendees have described as “fiery exchanges” across the floor, Councillor Stephanie Griffin stood up to speak in favour of the amended motion, explaining that: “whether we approved or rejected fracking applications made no odds as the ultimate decision will be made in Holyrood.”

The amendment was later passed and resulted in the original motion – which read: “This Council has grave concerns regarding unconventional gas extraction and to this end supports a moratorium on the development of this technology throughout North Lanarkshire.” – becoming: “We [North Lanarkshire Council] agree to the sentiment of the motion and a moratorium should be introduced. We [North Lanarkshire Council] call on the Scottish Government to do so immediately.”

Councillor Griffin added: “We did not, as a Labour Group, refuse to back the concept of a moratorium. In actual fact we backed it, and said it should be introduced but our amendment mentioned the fact that the Scottish Government should declare a moratorium.

“In my speech to second the amendment I clarified that whether we approved or rejected fracking applications made no odds as the ultimate decision will be made in Holyrood.”

The Labour Councillor added: “The SNP Government have overall control of planning and no fracking can go ahead anywhere in Scotland without their approval. SNP Minister Fergus Ewing said this week that the Government would 'work to ensure that any such developments can happen only under the strictest environmental and planning rules' - a million miles away from a moratorium.” 

Anti-fracking campaigners are, however, not wholly satisfied with the motion. Some have described the amendment as simply “passing the buck” to the Scottish Government, while others have viewed the measure as a way to put pressure on the SNP administration. 

Pete Miller, a spokesman for the Halt Unconventional Gas Extraction in Cumbernauld and Surrounding Areas campaign group told Cumbernauld Media: “It was and is good to see cross-party agreement that fracking is dangerous, and should be halted, to protect our landscape, our environment and the health of our people.

“It is disappointing, though, that North Lanarkshire Council’s Labour Group decided to pass the buck to the Scottish Government, when they themselves could have taken a historic step in calling a moratorium on this frankly hazardous industry, as some English councils – such as Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle City Council, Preston and Sheffield – have done.”

“Nevertheless, we welcome the cross-party support on this matter, and see today’s result as a step in the right direction,” he added.
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