INEOS criticises Scotland's '˜Alice-in-Wonderland' approach to fracking

INEOS has accused the Scottish Government of taking an 'Alice-in-Wonderland' approach to fracking warning that confusion over the ban would cost jobs and investment.

Court of Session has been considering fracking

Tom Pickering, operations director of INEOS Shale, said the government had performed a “staggering U-turn” on fracking in a statement made outside the Court of Session.

Mr Pickering criticised ministers after a Judicial Review hearing considering the ban came to an end.

The petrochemical giant, which had been hoping to establish fracking operations in Central Scotland, went to court to challenge the “ban”.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Court of Session has been considering fracking

Lord Pentland’s judgement has yet to issued, but earlier the court heard from the government’s lawyer James Mure QC who said the “concept of an effective ban is a gloss”.

Mr Muir claimed the government had yet to adopt a position on the ban.

Mr Pickering contrasted the QC’s remarks with those made by Nicola Sturgeon and energy minister Paul Wheelhouse when they declared last year that fracking had been banned in Scotland.

Outside the court, Mr Pickering said: “We were astonished to learn during proceedings that the Scottish Government claims that it has not issued a ban on fracking in Scotland and indeed there may never be one.

“The position of the Scottish Government that has now been stated in court represents a staggering U-turn on the policy direction announced by the Energy Minister during parliamentary debate in October last year and by the First Minister when she said in parliament ‘Scotland should welcome the fact that fracking in Scotland is banned’.

“The Scottish people and parliament may find this revelation barely believable when the Government has repeatedly told Holyrood that there is an effective and immediate ban. The developments during the Judicial Review process undermine the statements made by ministers and cast further uncertainty and ambiguity across the policy framework for onshore unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland. We took ministers and government at their word.

“Sadly we seem to have reached the Alice-in-Wonderland situation where a business has to go to the Scottish courts to establish whether announcements in in Holyrood can be taken at face value. As a result there is now an unpredictable and uncertain environment for business in Scotland.”

Mr Pickering added: “Jobs rely on investment but there is precious little in Scotland at the present time. The current situation makes it harder than ever for business to invest in Scotland for the long term.”