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Scottish Government Lays Foundation For Shale Revolution

Simon Johnson, The Daily Telegraph

Fracking could generate billions of pounds and thousands of jobs for the Scottish economy with only a minute risk of earthquakes, according to research published by SNP ministers.

Research conducted by KPMG for the Scottish Government found allowing the extraction of shale gas could attract up to £6.5 billion of investment up to 2062 and create 3,100 jobs.

It said the controversial practice could generate up to £3.9 billion in tax revenues and produce the equivalent of 18 years of Scottish gas consumption.

However, it noted that the industry at best would only increase Scotland’s GDP by 0.3 per cent and warned that gas and oil prices remaining low would make it uneconomic.

The findings were contained in one of six reports published by the Scottish Government as part of its consideration of whether fracking should be allowed north of the Border.

A moratorium was imposed in January last year, with SNP members hostile and Nicola Sturgeon sceptical about the practice. However, her government has come under pressure to make a final decision after the Grangemouth refinery started importing US shale gas in September.

Labour and environmental groups argued the research demonstrated that fracking should be banned, with the potential dangers outweighing the benefits. But the onshore oil and gas industry said it “clearly” showed the case for lifting the moratorium.

Unveiling the reports, Paul Wheelhouse , the SNP’s Energy Minister, said MSPs will get to vote on fracking but noted that much of the shale gas deposits are located in the “densely populated” Central Belt.

He said a public consultation will start early next year and pledged this would “not simply be an opinion poll”. Scottish ministers will come to a “considered judgement” after that, he added.

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