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SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT’S APPROACH TO UNCONVENTIONAL GAS INCONSISTENT WITH BROADER ENERGY POLICY, SAYS EXPERT

Dr Stuart Paton calls for sensible agreement between developers, government and local communities

Reform Scotland, the independent, non-party think tank, has published a paper on its Melting Pot blog by Dr Stuart Paton, an adviser to the oil and gas industry and former Chief Executive of Dana Petroleum

Dr Paton’s paper, Power of Scotland: Energy Policy in Scotland, says that after the decommissioning of the two Scottish nuclear power stations Scotland will not have base load capacity. Mr Paton believes that unconventional gas development, particularly in Central Scotland from shale and coal bed methane, and new build nuclear capacity would help to fill this gap in supply.

In the paper, which is available on the Melting Pot blog, Dr Paton says:

“It is clear to the overwhelming majority of scientists and the vast majority of the public that human caused global warming is taking place and that the response to the threat requires a global effort.

“From a Scottish perspective, the Holyrood government has been activist in laying out an energy policy. However, there are a number of contradictions in that policy. The Scottish Government has a commitment to zero emissions from electricity generation by 2020, yet an outright rejection of nuclear power and continued support for a coal power station at Longannet. The government shows unbridled support for the offshore oil and gas industry, but not onshore unconventionals.”

Dr Paton goes on to write:

“At present, the problem of base load capacity is satisfied by nuclear capacity, fossil fuel generation and imports. Therefore, without new, non wind reliant, generation capacity, Scotland will not have base load capacity. The development of new nuclear or unconventional gas provides potential local supply as discussed further below.

“There is significant potential for unconventional oil and gas development in Central Scotland in shale oil and gas and coal bed methane. INEOS, who own the Grangemouth refinery and petrochemical’s complex have acquired interests in Central Scotland demonstrating the potential in this area.”

Commenting on the Scottish Government’s current approach to unconventional gas extraction, Dr Paton concludes that opposition to developing fossil fuel resources is:

“Not a logical objection for the Scottish government given its support of the offshore industry. The key concerns are around aquifer influx from drilling, methane leaking and seismicity. However, the key issues onshore can be managed with a robust regulator such as is present offshore. Further, the areas with potential lie in formerly industrial and coal mining areas. In principle, there must be a basis for agreement which makes sense for local communities, developers and government to allow unconventional exploration and thereafter development to take place.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Reform Scotland is an independent, non-party think tank that aims to set out a better way to deliver increased economic prosperity and more effective public services based on the traditional Scottish principles of limited government, diversity and personal responsibility. Further information is available at www.reformscotland.com
2. The Melting Pot is our guest blog page, where Scotland’s thinkers, talkers and writers can indulge in some blue sky thinking. The posts do not represent Reform Scotland’s policies.
3. The paper  Power of Scotland: Energy Policy in Scotland – can be read here.
4. Media: Message Matters (Andy Maciver, 07855 261 244)