ONE of Scottish Labour’s biggest backers has told the party to “get real” over fracking and likened contribution of its MSPs at Holyrood over the issue to “a student politics pub debate”.
Trade Union GMB Scotland said that abandoning a “balanced energy strategy” would mean importing more gas from questionable regimes who have no regard for human rights or the environment.
Labour has heaped pressure on the SNP by demanding a fracking ban, winning a vote at Holyrood earlier this month after the nationalists abstained, claiming that the “the science is clear” against unconventional onshore oil and gas extraction.
The GMB spoke out following an intervention from Ineos, the owner of the Grangemouth industrial complex, which entered the political debate by challenging Labour’s assertion and arguments it deployed to justify its stance.
Ineos, which has fracking exploration licences across central Scotland but has seen progress halted by a moratorium, said the logic of Labour position suggested that “is now against fossil fuel development in general”. It also argued that gas is far more environmentally friendly than coal, as is developing indigenous reserves rather than relying on foreign imports shipped from overseas.
The Trade Union called for a “sensible debate on the economic and employment opportunities of fracking” and said it was part of a growing response to the anti-fracking lobby in Scotland which included voices from academia, industry and politics.
Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary said: “This sobering intervention from the industry is one that Scottish Labour would do well to take on board because the idea that we can heat our homes or run our industries without fossil fuels anytime soon is a nonsense.
“Gas is around four times cheaper than electricity – it helps heat 78 per cent of all homes in Scotland – and I doubt any serious political party with ambitions of government would go to the electorate on a manifesto that proposes a fourfold increase on their heating bills.
“Abandoning a balanced energy strategy will mean importing more gas from questionable regimes who have no regard whatsoever for human rights or the environment, never mind tackling fuel poverty or redistributing wealth in the form of job creation.
“Some of the contributions earlier this month in the Scottish Parliament resembled a student politics pub debate and its time the party of labour got real again on Scotland’s energy future.”