A high-profile Scottish environmental campaigner has given his backing to fracking as long as safeguards are in place and key conditions are met.
In a significant intervention that will help to undermine opposition to the energy source, Robin Harper, the first Green MSP and now the chairman of a major environmental trust, said that he would be prepared to give his cautious backing if it could be proved that it was an improvement on the burning of coal and oil.
Mr Harper said that he was speaking in his role as chairman of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, but he made it clear that he supported its position.
Speaking to The Times, Mr Harper said: “If it’s safe and if it doesn’t damage the environment, if it’s an improvement on burning coal or oil, then, yes, there would be cautious backing for it.”
His comments will be a major setback for anti-fracking campaigners, who have argued that anything other than a complete ban would damage the environment. Mr Harper’s powerful green credentials mean that they will not be able to dismiss his views easily.
Mr Harper’s decision not to support a complete ban will also give a much needed fillip to pro-fracking groups, who have argued that the process is safe and could provide Scotland with huge amounts of cheap energy.