BRITAIN'S youngest MP has been accused of spreading "misleading nonsense" after warning that the UK Government could overrule Holyrood and "impose fracking on Scotland".

Mhairi Black, in her weekly column for pro-independence newspaper The National, claimed that a recent decision to approve fracking in Ryedale, North Yorkshire could be used by the Tories as an 'excuse' to force through fracking applications north of the border.

She made the statement despite the Scottish Parliament having control over environmental regulations and the planning system, which it has used to implement a moratorium since last year, and with full control over licensing for onshore oil and gas developments being devolved.

Read more: SNP facing fresh calls for outright ban on fracking

Friends of the Earth Scotland said it was in was "no doubt" that the Scottish Government could ban fracking while Scottish Labour, which will tomorrow call for the move in a Holyrood debate, said the MP's intervention was an attempt to distract from the SNP's "weak stance" over the issue.

A moratorium will remain in place until a public consultation and new research is completed next year. While Nicola Sturgeon has recently hardened her stance against fracking, she has so far refused to rule out giving the technique, which sees water sand and chemicals pumped underground to fracture shale rock, the green light.

Ms Black, after highlighting the UK Government's support for fracking, wrote: "We had the chance in 2014 to make sure that all decisions affecting Scotland would be taken here. Unfortunately we threw that away, and are still in the position that Westminster can overrule the Scottish Parliament on any issue it wishes... don’t be too surprised if the Tories, under significant pressure from their supporters in the energy industry, try to use the North Yorkshire decision as an excuse to impose fracking on Scotland."


While technically Westminster reserves the right to legislate in devolved areas, under The Sewel Convention Holyrood must grant consent while the UK Government has previously confirmed the Scottish Government already has the ability to block fracking if it chooses.

A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: "This is misleading nonsense from Mhairi Black, and is clearly an attempt to divert attention from the SNP Government's weak stance on fracking. The SNP has the power to stop fracking in Scotland. Instead of their temporary freeze, the SNP should back Labour's plan for an outright fracking ban.

"Having lost their majority the SNP are faced with a choice - they can work with anti-fracking parties like Labour or they can side with pro-fracking parties like the Tories."

Read more: Herald View - Sturgeon must come clean on fracking

Friends of the Earth Scotland said it was "extremely unlikely" that the UK Government would seek to impose fracking on Scotland and said that SNP ministers already had sufficient planning and environmental control to implement a ban, with further powers on the way.

Mary Church, the charity's head of campaigns, added: "What the Ryedale decision and the ongoing inquiry in Lancashire do however, is bring into sharp focus the reality that central belt communities under license are facing unless the Scottish Government acts decisively to ban fracking. Without an all out ban, communities will be left to take on well-resourced companies like Ineos and fight the industry planning application by planning application.

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"We are in no doubt that the Scottish Government can act to ban fracking and that there are plenty of robust grounds for doing so. The only sensible course of action in the face of mounting evidence of the dangers of fracking is to put a stop to it permanently, ending the uncertainty of communities across the central belt."

An SNP spokeswoman said: "Mhairi Black was expressing the view that the decision made by North Yorkshire County Council could increase pressure for similar decisions to be made in Scotland prior to full consideration of the research into the health and environmental impact of fracking, which has been commissioned by the Scottish Government.

Read more: SNP MP Mhairi Black on why Westminster will never feel like home

"The SNP are deeply sceptical about fracking and have ensured that no fracking can take place in Scotland by putting in place a moratorium. We've also put in place a very thorough research programme and plans for a public consultation - so that any decision is based on both evidence and public opinion.

"Unless it can be proven beyond doubt that there is no risk to health, communities or the environment, there will be no fracking or UCG extraction in Scotland."