The Scottish Government said a “cautious approach” should be taken following the announcement by Ineos that it plans to invest £640million in shale and gas exploration in the UK.
The move by chemicals giant Ineos could make it the biggest player in the industry in the country.
The company already has two licences near its plant at Grangemouth in Scotland but is applying for more in Scotland and the north of England.
It plans to use the gas as a raw material for its chemicals plants, including Grangemouth in Stirlingshire.
Grangemouth is currently running at a loss, but Ineos believes shale gas will transform the economics of the plant.
However, a Scottish Government spokesman said there should be an emphasis on strong environmental protection and the views of communities, when considering the use of shale gas.
He said: “The Scottish Government believes that we should proceed cautiously and take an evidence-based approach to unconventional oil and gas extraction, including ensuring strong environmental protection and making sure that the views of communities are taken into account.
“As has been recognised by environmental NGOs, our approach is in stark contrast to the approach of the UK Government.
“In particular the Scottish Government has strongly opposed the UK Government’s plans to grant automatic drilling access rights under homes no matter the views of householders.
“In June our revised planning framework made further regulations including a buffer zone and additional risk assessment.
“There are no planning applications for projects that propose the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) techniques in Scotland at this time.
“We strongly endorse the appropriate and robust regulation of drilling techniques such as fracking associated with the extraction of shale gas.”
“Proposals for coalbed methane or shale gas production in Scotland will be studied closely with each proposal considered through the normal planning process and the appropriate regulatory regimes including SEPA’s updated guidance on the regulation of shale gas and coalbed methane published in December 2012.
“We have also recently tightened planning policy on this issue including bringing in buffer zones. It is also vital that potential operators engage with local communities and the key regulators.”
Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “Shale gas is a huge opportunity for Scotland and it is good to see that Ineos is intent on maximising its potential.
“Ineos has recognised that the future of Grangemouth is dependent on cheap shale imports or, if possible, a domestic supply.
“On our doorstep we have a source of energy that has the potential to increase our energy independence, create jobs, reduce carbon emissions and lower fuel poverty.”
But Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “Climate science tells us we already have access to far more fossil fuel than we can safely burn, so the public is quite justified in opposing these risky new techniques for extracting more gas.
“We should be looking to use our existing hydrocarbon supplies carefully and within limits, rather than chasing after more, as well as investing in clean technology that delivers long-term jobs and a safe environment.
“If Ineos think they can easily frack the Forth Valley they’ve got another thing coming. This is a highly populated area, and we’ve already seen serious opposition mobilised in local communities where coal bed methane drilling has been proposed. Anyone thinking of fracking in Scotland’s central belt will face a similar wave of protest.”