The UK’s onshore oil and gas trade body has called for the Scottish Government to realise fracking’s potential and ditch its moratorium on the technology.
UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) said the government’s own research had debunked many of the wilder claims about fracking’s environmental impacts and that continuing the moratorium was unjustified.
A moratorium on unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland has been in place since January 2015 while the government investigates evidence on its potential impact.
A consultation on fracking was launched earlier this year and finishes at the end of May. A final decision is expected to be made by ministers by the end of the year.
UKOOG today issued its response to the consultation, arguing that the “science is clear” and that regulation was strong enough to deal with the roll out of shale in Scotland.
The trade body said there is no viable or affordable alternative to natural gas for use in domestic and industrial heating.
UKOOG chief executive Ken Cronin said: “We strongly believe that there is a significant economic opportunity for Scotland but we recognise that as a result of a deeply polarised debate and an extremely unfair depiction by some of the onshore oil and gas industry there is still much to do to ensure local communities within the central shale belt have proper information.
“Our conviction that a moratorium is no longer justified is underlined by the fact 30 wells have been drilled in the last 20 years and gas has been produced in the central belt of Scotland. This has happened without incident – to the environment or to public health.”
GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith backed UKOOG’s intervention.
Mr Smith said: “The idea that we can affordably heat our homes, power our economy and sustain thousands of jobs without domestic gas production is just ‘pie in the sky’ politics and the main losers will be hard working Scots and the poorest in our society.
“This is a sensible intervention by UKOOG that tackles the superficial demonisation of domestic gas production and lays out the economic and employment opportunities a properly regulated fracking industry could offer Scotland.”