16 Feb 2015
February 16, 2015

Fracking and jobs

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In the last few months I’ve talked to a lot of people in the Falkirk area about fracking. I’ve also spoken to industry experts across the UK and indeed the world, and the message from all, whether local workers or geologists in Africa, is consistently positive about the new technology.

So it may seem odd, to some, that at the same time I’ve found that the fracking moratorium in Scotland is welcomed by pretty much everyone sensible I’ve come across – politicians of all parties, experts, businessfolk and workers alike. This isn’t because such people are anti-fracking; in fact it’s quite the reverse.

Most folk are keen to exploit Scotland’s natural resources to benefit Scotland. The SNP often stresses Scotland’s natural resources as an argument for independence; Labour and The Tories often stress the high value jobs at Grangemouth and the thousands more in the local supply chain created by those jobs. It isn’t possible to hold a principled position that importing fracked gas from the US is fine but local fracking is wrong, although this is exactly what nimbys do of course. And I’ve found that the folk who organise anti-fracking events tend to be folk who use the Falkirk area’s unrivalled communications links to commute to white collar jobs elsewhere. Indeed I’ve discovered in correspondence and in social media that such folk literally do not give a hoot about jobs in the industry. Nor do they care about the science.

And yet, everyone has a right to an opinion. And the public is, when all’s said and done, very fair-minded. That’s why the great majority of folk I’ve spoken to think the best way to proceed with new gas extraction technologies is to give a fair hearing to all the the arguments in a cool and calm way after the heat of an election, then to find the best solution for Scotland.

It’s a shame that local politicians in the Falkirk area feel they have to pretend they’re anti-fracking while knowing full well that their respective parties have a much more open mind to a safe technology which is poised to make the Falkirk area the powerhouse of Scotland.   It’s a tragedy, too, that some of those who claim to be on side of the workers put their dislike of big companies above the jobs they create and are presently arguing for and end to the thousands of jobs which come with fracking. Still, I guess that’s politics.

For now, I think it’s best for people to quietly be aware of the realities which confront them as they try to do the best for their families and also recognise how we all benefit from Scotland’s place in the world of energy production. Then, ironically, after the election we can all get commonsensical and serious about jobs, the economy and Scotland’s future.