Scotland will miss out on billions of pounds and thousands of jobs from fracking while England “reaps the benefits”, a petrochemical giant has said after SNP ministers banned the practice north of the Border.
Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Energy Minister, told MSPs that the controversial shale gas extraction technique “cannot and will not take place in Scotland.”
In a statement at Holyrood, he said an existing moratorium on fracking, which has been in place since 2015, would continue “indefinitely” after a consultation showed “overwhelming” opposition.
But Ineos, the operators of the huge Grangemouth petrochemical plant, which is responsible for 4 per cent of Scotland’s GDP, said the decision “beggars belief” and accused the SNP of having “turned its back on a potential manufacturing and jobs renaissance”.
It predicted £33 billion would be invested in England over the next two decades, with Scotland losing out on 3,100 jobs as the North Sea oil industry continues to decline.
The company, which holds fracking exploration licences across 700 miles of Scotland, also warned it was weighing up its legal options, including whether to sue the Scottish or UK governments over £50 million of lost investment.
Environmental groups welcomed the decision but the Conservatives and GMB trade union argued it would wreak major economic damage. They also claimed it was hypocritical for the Scottish Government to allow the import of US shale gas to Grangemouth, while banning its extraction.
The ban will be confirmed by a vote in the Scottish Parliament later this year but, with only the Tories opposed to a ban, it is likely to be a formality.
Although energy policy is reserved to Westminster, Scottish ministers’ control over the planning system means they can block any application to frack.