Scotland ‘could have to rely on English shale gas’

Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government is taking a cautious approach to fracking. Picture: SWNS

Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government is taking a cautious approach to fracking. Picture: SWNS

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The Scottish Government could be forced to rely on shale gas that has been fracked in England to keep homes north of the border warm, the First Minister has been warned.

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson demanded Nicola Sturgeon “gives the country some proper answers” on whether the controversial process will be given the green light in Scotland.

She challenged Ms Sturgeon on the issue two days after the first giant tanker filled with shale gas from the United States arrived at the Ineos chemical plant in Grangemouth.

That facility would have been closed without the imported gas, the company has said, with the loss of 10,000 jobs.

The Scottish Government has put in place a moratorium on fracking and is currently awaiting the results of research, before then carrying out a public consultation.

Ministers will then make a decision on whether to allow unconventional gas extraction.

But Ms Davidson said: “Nobody is well served by a government that hides from view and kicks this into the long grass.”

She added: “This is a First Minister that doesn’t want to admit that her Government’s failure on energy will leave us reliant on others to keep our homes heated.

“There are 10,000 jobs in central Scotland that are reliant on shale gas coming here from other countries, but we still have no answers on shale gas at home.”

She accused the SNP of “total double standards on this matter”, saying: “When it comes to shale gas in this country, they have leapt on their high horse, preached about a moratorium and boasted that they’re the planet’s best friend.

“But when the gas is poured into a tanker and shipped all the way across the Atlantic to our shores, then they turn a blind eye and hope that if they ignore it everybody else will too.

“It’s quite possible that shale gas in the rest of the UK will get the go ahead soon, if local communities back it. If it does, providers say that much of that gas will go to Grangemouth and will end up in the national grid, powering many Scottish homes.

“So we could end up with a ban on Scottish gas but with Scottish homes reliant on English gas to keep the pipes warm.”

Ms Sturgeon, however, told her the Scottish Government is “taking a cautious, evidence-based approach to the issue of shale gas and fracking”, insisting that is the “right approach” given concerns about possible impacts on the environment and local communities.

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