Political storm over MPs’ fracking vote

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A political row has broken out over how local MPs voted

during a debate on fracking in the House of Commons

recently.

The Greens and SNP have criticised local Labour and Lib Dem politicians for their stance.

East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson voted against a UK moratorium on fracking, while Labour abstained from supporting an SNP amendment. They did, however, submit their own amendments calling for a halt to fracking.

Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP Fiona McLeod said: ‘‘Gregg McClymont MP (Kirkintilloch East) abstained on the moratorium and Jo Swinson MP voted against the moratorium. East Dunbartonshire residents in both constituencies were failed by their MPs.”

Green candidate Ross Greer said: ‘‘Whilst Labour’s abstention on the fracking moratorium was inexplicable, Jo Swinson’s vote against it was simply inexcusable.

‘‘I am surely not the only resident of East Dunbartonshire wondering how this decision could possibly have been made in the best interests of her constituents.”

Labour MP Gregg McClymont did not back the SNP amendment in the recent debate, but supported a Labour amendment on the issue and also backed the devolution of the issue to Scotland.

Speaking after the vote he said: “Thanks to Labour’s amendment, the government has been forced to accept that tough protections and proper safeguards must be in place before fracking can go ahead.

“Attention must now turn to the Scottish Government, who can block shale gas in Scotland if they choose.”

Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson said helping households keep energy bills down was key.

She told the Herald: ‘‘ I take the environmental concerns around fracking extremely seriously, which is why strict environmental safeguards are essential and should be led by the scientific evidence.

‘‘The Scottish Government already have full responsibility over planning permits for any fracking activity and will soon have powers for fracking licensing, following the Smith Commission.

“In that spirit I supported amendments to the Infrastructure Bill so that the parts of it relating to fracking no longer apply to Scotland.’’

She added: ‘‘It’s worth noting the SNP did not rule out fracking in the future. Mr Ewing has made it clear that “onshore gas is a valuable national resource which can play a part in Scotland’s energy mix.

“The SNP also voted against a ban on fracking last year during a Scottish Parliament debate. The SNP are not anti-fracking, despite some of the rhetoric we have heard over the last few months.’’