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Scotland to be Exempt From New Shale Gas Law

January 15, 2015
Environmental Protection

The government has admitted that Scotland will be exempt from the requirements of the Infrastructure Bill which aims to make it easier for fracking companies to drill for shale gas. The legislation will still allow underground access to sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Power over onshore shale gas exploration will pass to the Scottish parliament as a result of the cross party recommendations of the Smith Commission made after the independence referendum.

The decision has already prompted the Welsh Government to call for a similar exemption to be applied; a spokesman told Wales Online “We have raised with the UK Government the importance of decisions on oil and gas activity in Wales, both above and below ground, being determined in Wales. We see no reason why the powers devolved to Scotland for onshore oil and gas matters should not also be devolved to Wales.”

In another amendment to the bill, fracking companies will be legally bound to reveal chemicals used in every well they drill and employ better techniques for groundwater monitoring.

The news comes as scientists in the United States claim to have discovered two potentially hazardous chemicals never seen before in drilling operations. Scientists at Duke University have found ammonium and iodide in waste waters in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Ammonium can turn to ammonia which is highly toxic to aquatic life while iodide which is not toxic on its own can produce poisonous disinfection by products when in contact with the chlorine used to treat domestic water supplies.