About this consultation
This section sets out the steps the Scottish Government is taking to conduct an open and inclusive consultation that gives everyone with an interest in unconventional oil and gas an opportunity to get involved in the discussion and put their views across.
Why we are consulting
Studies have shown that Scotland's geology, and in particular a stretch of land through Scotland's central belt (referred to as the Midland Valley), contains significant quantities of shale gas and oil, and coal bed methane. The central belt is also one of Scotland's most populated regions, supporting important industries and business.
Accessing these resources would require the use of technologies such as hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as 'fracking'). This has led to a widespread debate on potential environmental, health and economic impacts, and on compatibility with Scotland's ambitious climate change targets.
The Scottish Government's approach to unconventional oil and gas is therefore one of caution while we gather and consider evidence, encourage dialogue, and give you an opportunity to set out your views.
This consultation does not set out or advocate a preferred Scottish Government position or policy. Instead, this consultation is an opportunity for the people of Scotland and our stakeholders to consider the evidence, and to present views on that evidence and the future of this industry in Scotland.
What we are consulting on
This is a consultation about onshore unconventional oil and gas. It covers the potential processes and technologies that would be involved in extracting shale oil and gas, including hydraulic fracturing, or coal bed methane. Evidence on potential impacts is discussed under the following themes: community, economic, environmental.
To support this consultation, the Scottish Government has compiled a comprehensive evidence-base. This has included commissioning a report by an Independent Expert Scientific Panel, and commissioning a series of research projects to explore certain issues in more detail. We also recognise that there may be other information and evidence that you may wish to draw on when responding to this consultation.
Conventional onshore and offshore oil and gas are outside the scope of this consultation. The difference between conventional and unconventional oil and gas is discussed on PDF page 16.
The future of unconventional oil and gas is relevant to wider energy issues, and our climate change ambitions. The launch of this consultation has therefore been coordinated with the publication of our third Climate Change Plan and our consultation on Scotland's draft Energy Strategy.
More information on Scotland's draft Climate Change Plan can be found at: /publications/draft-climate-change-plan-draft-third-report-policies-proposals-2017/
More information on Scotland's draft Energy Strategy can be found at: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/energy-and-climate-change-directorate/draft-energy-strategy/
The consultation on Scotland's draft Energy Strategy explores the supply of safe, clean, reliable and affordable energy that will both underpin the Scottish economy and contribute to the wellbeing of our society.
Views on unconventional oil and gas should be directed through this consultation, whereas views on wider energy matters should be submitted through the draft Energy Strategy consultation.
How we are consulting
The Scottish Government has listened carefully to the views of stakeholders on conducting a fair and impartial consultation. In undertaking this consultation, the Scottish Government is committed to:
- evidence-led policy making, and using the evidence of public views gathered in this consultation as part of the pool of evidence;
- providing the public with impartial information on the issues, and supporting open and informed dialogue;
- supporting a fair and balanced debate on the issues that creates space for different perspectives and arguments to be presented and considered;
- transparency throughout the consultation process and giving all contributions fair and due consideration;
- actively seeking participation from a broad cross-section of the Scottish population, including individuals, businesses and interest groups.
To encourage wide participation, the Scottish Government has created a number of ways for you to engage in the consultation.
In addition to publishing this consultation document, we have launched a temporary unconventional oil and gas website: www.talkingfracking.scot
The site has been designed to provide a user-friendly route to accessing all the materials and evidence that support this consultation. We encourage those wishing to explore the issues further to visit this site.
A discussion pack has been designed and prepared to help communities and stakeholders to explore and discuss the issues in groups. This can be accessed through our unconventional oil and gas website.
The results of those discussions can be submitted to the Scottish Government and will be treated as a formal response to this consultation.
The consultation is also available in alternate formats on request, including Easy Read, large print, Braille, BSL and other languages. You can request these by emailing us at email@example.com or calling us on 0131 244 9380. We are also happy to receive responses in alternative formats, e.g. spoken responses, other languages.
Responding to this Consultation
We are inviting responses to this consultation by 31 May 2017. Please respond using the Scottish Government's consultation platform, Citizen Space. You can view and respond to the consultation online at: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/energy-and-climate-change-directorate/fracking-unconventional-oil-and-gas/
You can save and return to your responses while the consultation is still open. Please ensure that consultation responses are submitted before the closing date of 31 May 2017. If you are unable to respond online, please complete the Respondent Information Form (see 'Handling your Response' below) and send it to:Consultation on Unconventional Oil and Gas
Onshore Oil and Gas Team
The Scottish Government
You can also download our discussion pack and submit a group response to the consultation.
Handling your response
If you respond using Citizen Space you will be directed to the Respondent Information Form. Please indicate how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are happy for your response to published.
If you are unable to respond via Citizen Space, please complete and return the Respondent Information Form included in this document. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly.
All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.
Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, responses will be made available to the public at http://consult.scotland.gov.uk. If you use Citizen Space to respond, you will receive a copy of your response via email.
Following the closing date, all responses will be independently analysed and the consultation analysis report will be considered alongside the full suite of evidence gathered. The analysis of your responses will be published in full.
On 8 November 2016, the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy confirmed that:
- a recommendation on the future of unconventional oil and gas will be made after the consultation closes and the responses have been independently analysed;
- the Scottish Parliament will then be asked to vote on this issue; and
- the Scottish Government will then come to a considered judgment on the future of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland.
If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted, please send them to:Onshore Oil and Gas Team
The Scottish Government