Fracking is set to be banned in Scotland after the Scottish government announced that the technique "cannot and will not" take place in the country.
A temporary ban on the controversial gas extraction technique has been in place in Scotland since 2015, but the Scottish government's energy minister announced on Tuesday afternoon that the ban will now carry on indefinitely.
The effective ban is backed by four of the five parties that make up the Scottish parliament, meaning that when the issue is voted on in the parliament before the end of the year, it will be a formality.
Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said the decision came after extensive consultation with groups and figures across Scotland in which 99% of respondents held a negative view of fracking due to environmental and health concerns.
"We must be confident the choices we make will not compromise health and safety or damage the environment in which we live," said Wheelhouse.
"Having considered this matter in considerable detail, it is ... our view that the outcome of the public engagement shows that in those communities which would most affected, there is no social licence for unconventional oil and gas to be taken forward at this time.
"Taking all of this into account and balancing the interests of the environment, our economy, public health, and pubic opinion, I can confirm the conclusion of the Scottish government is that we will not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland."
The minister clarified: "The action is sufficient to effectively ban the development of unconventional oil and gas extraction in Scotland. The decision I am announcing today means that fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland."
Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns Mary Church said: "This is a victory for the environment and for local communities fighting fracking. The Scottish government's decision today to ban fracking will be warmly welcomed across the country and around the world.
"This is a huge win for the anti-fracking movement, particularly for those on the frontline of this dirty industry here in Scotland, who have been working for a ban these last six years."
Stewart Kirkpatrick of campaign group 38 Degrees told BuzzFeed News: "This is a victory for people power. Tens of thousands of us across Scotland have joined together with local and national organisations to stand together and tell the Scottish government to shut the door on this risky form of dirty energy."
Scottish Labour's environment spokesperson Claudia Beamish said: “This is a victory for Labour, environmental groups and communities across Scotland. Labour has long argued that the climate change science is clear – we do not need another fossil fuel. Instead Scotland needs to develop forms of renewable energy with unionised and well-paid jobs.
“This announcement is a result of Labour pressure and specifically my proposal to change the law to ban fracking in Scotland, but extending the moratorium indefinitely is not as strong as a full legal ban, and could be overturned at any point at the whim of a minister."
Speaking to journalists shortly before the announcement at the Conservative party conference, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the ban would be the wrong step to take and that allowing fracking to happen would help those who have lost their jobs in the oil industry.
"We've been clear about this from the start. We believe we've got an offshore regime with environmental and safety standards that are second to none ... and we've lost 60,000 people in the North Sea offshore with transferrable skills," said the Scottish Conservative leader.
"We believe that with local consent, this is something that should be done in planning laws at local council level. If councils want to license for this within the safety and environmental regime, we want to see that happen."
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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