The word is ‘Fracking’ for those wondering about the two asterisks in the headline. BBC Scotland is today manipulating its news coverage of a Holyrood debate to present it as something that it isn’t.
Today the Scottish parliament will debate a motion put forward by SNP MSP Roseanna Cunningham. The motion is entitled ‘Taking Scotland Forward – Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform’.
It reads as follows:
That the Parliament agrees that Scotland’s stunning natural environment is one of its most precious assets; recognises that wise and productive use of the country’s natural capital is at the heart of a strong, sustainable, low-carbon economy; believes that both its ambition and its record make Scotland a world leader on climate change, and notes that empowering communities by reforming the way that land is owned and managed is vital to creating a fairer Scotland.
There’s no mention of fracking in the motion which will be debated today. Below though is how BBC Scotland has headlined the debate.
The headline is based on one of the four amendments lodged by opposition parties at Holyrood. It isn’t based on the first amendment lodged, or the second or third amendments. BBC Scotland has based the headline on the fourth amendment lodged, the one lodged by Scottish Labour, which is shown below.
As an amendment to motion S5M-00226 in the name of Roseanna Cunningham (Taking Scotland Forward – Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform), after “Parliament” insert “recognises that, to meet Scotland’s climate change goals and protect the environment, there must be an outright ban on fracking in Scotland;”
An amendment submitted after three others, by the party who finished third in the recent Scottish election, is setting the political news agenda on BBC Scotland as you can hear from the audio clip below.
As expected, Reporting Scotland has also been pushing Scottish Labour’s agenda.
What’s going on I hear you ask? The answer is simple. BBC Scotland is assisting Scottish Labour in an attempt to cause discomfort to the SNP. Labour’s ruse is designed, not to prevent fracking, but to portray Nicola Sturgeon’s party as preparing to allow fracking … with the backing of the Tories. Listen again to a short segment from the audio clip above.
BBC Scotland’s coverage is a complete corruption of the actual motion and the amendments that have been submitted. The only party to call for an outright ban at this moment is Scottish Labour.
Indeed, even the Scottish Green party’s own amendment stops short of calling for an outright ban on fracking. Andy Wightman’s amendment does argue that fracking is incompatible with Scotland’s low-carbon ambitions. But that stance isn’t incompatible with the Scottish government’s current moratorium which effectively bans fracking but crucially prevents companies from circumventing any ban through the courts.
As has already been explained by Peter A Bell on this very site, Scottish Labour’s call for a ban would, if implemented, weaken the defences against fracking. Such a ban would be challenged in court and almost certainly end up in the UK Supreme Court where it would most likely be overturned.
The vote today highlights how Scottish Labour is prepared to sabotage our environment if it means harming the SNP. The party has, for some time, been unable to appreciate that an attack on the Scottish government may at times have repercussions for Scotland itself. Should Nicola Sturgeon’s party back Labour’s amendment, it would at a stroke render the moratorium a sham. Companies would be able to claim the Scottish government had already pre-determined the outcome.
Scottish Labour’s attack on the SNP is, as usual, easily exposed as hypocritical opportunism.
The Scottish Labour MSP who tabled the amendment was prepared to allow fracking to go ahead last year if local communities were in favour.
Writing in her own blog in February 2015, Claudia Beamish said:
“Scottish Labour has called for a halt in any onshore fracking taking place in Scotland until environmental and health safeguards are in place.”
“Scottish Labour would ensure environmental and health safeguards are in place by introducing a triple-lock system.
* A local referendum before final planning approval is given;
* Halting any fracking in Scotland until the lessons of fracking in the rest of the UK are learned;
* A comprehensive review of the baseline conditions before any planning application is granted
I am clear that this is the right way forward in order to better protect communities.
While I welcome the fact that the Scottish Government’s Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP has finally made a statement on the Scottish Government’s position on fracking, it is disappointing that he did not agree to Scottish Labour’s proposal for a local referendum if it ever reaches the stage of applications being considered.
… Our proposals for local referendums will reassure communities that no development will able to take place without local residents endorsing the decision.”
You won’t hear much, if anything, on BBC Scotland about Scottish Labour’s previously qualified support for fracking. To do that would destroy the political propaganda the broadcaster is itself promoting.
The sad thing about today’s debate is that crucial issues such as renewable energy, community ownership and land reform will be eclipsed by a blatant piece of manoeuvring from British Nationalists, helped by the British State Broadcaster.
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