A GROUP of environmental campaigners in the Wee County is calling for an outright ban on fracking after the Scottish Government announced its policy of no support.

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse last week confirmed the government at Holyrood would not back unconventional forms of oil and gas development in Scotland, including coalbed methane extraction and hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.

Local campaigners at Clacks Against Unconventional Gas Extraction (CAUGE) have been against any such developments for years amid concerns for the environment and people's health.

While the group welcomed the move, they would like to see a full-scale ban enshrined in law, arguing that a change in government could see a reverse of the policy position announced last week.

A spokesman for CAUGE said: "We are very positive about our role in providing local people with a strong and coherent voice to condemn fracking, especially as its impact locally could have been socially and environmentally devastating.

"In this respect CAUGE very much welcomes Mr Wheelhouse's comments and policy position; however, we remain concerned that it is only a current government policy position and that the ban on fracking is not ratified in law.

"The Scottish people and the people of Clackmannanshire in particular have been vociferous and absolutely clear in opposing the fracking industry in its entirety.

"The current government position means that any future change of government could overturn or change the current policy position.

"CAUGE believe Scotland requires a total ban embedded in the statute and which unequivocally defines that there will be no fracking in Scotland under any circumstances."

When outlining the government's position, Mr Wheelhouse said many factors were considered, including the potentially "significant negative effects" and an "overwhelming feedback" from the public who were against the idea.

The government's finalised policy position will be reflected in the next National Planning Framework.

It will need the approval of parliament under the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, which must be approved by parliament.

The current government says that once this has been signed off, no future government will be able to adopt a revised framework to support unconventional oil and gas development without the backing of Holyrood.

In 2016, the Scottish Government already decided it would block underground coal gasification developments using planning powers – this was another unconventional way of extracting gas.

While evidence was being taken to outline the policy, a moratorium was in place on such developments.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell says his party was able to push the government on the issues over the past years.

He said: "This decision emphasises that Greens continue to punch above our weight and is just the latest example of Green MSPs leading the change in the Scottish Parliament.

"Now the moratorium on planning decisions has been lifted ministers must move to reject INEOS's application to exploit gas in the Forth Valley."