Shale gas industry's surprise at "poor" Scottish decision to ban fracking.

Cuadrilla's fracking drill rig at Preston New Road
Cuadrilla's fracking drill rig at Preston New Road

The shale gas industry has reacted with surprise to the news that Scotland has banned fracking.

Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse has confirmed the government will outlaw the controversial gas extraction technique in Scotland.

A moratorium on the practice has been in place since January 2015 amid environmental pollution fears and following the earth tremors caused by fracking at Preese Hall near Blackpool in 2011 which stalled the industry.

But hydraulic fracturing supporters say the process can be managed safely and that Scotland risks missing out on the jobs it could create, a boost for the economy and a homegrown supply of gas.

Francis Egan, chef executive of Cuadrilla said: “We are very surprised at the Scottish Government’s decision to continue indefinitely its onshore fracking moratorium.

"That a country which has pioneered the exploration for and production of North Sea oil and gas, including the widespread and continuing use of fracking offshore, feels incapable of doing so onshore, relying instead on importing shale gas from the US does not make economic or environmental sense.

"We are pleased that in Lancashire we have a strong regulatory framework in place and Cuadrilla is at the forefront of proving that shale gas exploration can and will be a success.

"Lancashire we believe will be at the forefront of establishing a new secure source of UK natural gas, replacing fast declining North Sea production and reducing our ever growing reliance costly and environmentally damaging imports.

"Equally Lancashire is already benefiting, and will increasingly do so, from the investment, jobs and revenue that a successful shale gas industry will bring.”

Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of industry body, UK Onshore Oil and Gas, said: "The Scottish Government ignores the advice of its own independent experts and prefers a future where gas will have to be imported with the damage that will do to the economy and the environment.

"This is a poor decision, ignoring Scotland's rich heritage and expertise in oil and gas. It is not based on the evidence from extensive independent research, which clearly states that with appropriate regulatory oversight and monitoring Scotland's regulatory framework is sufficiently robust to manage onshore exploration and production.

"Today in Scotland, there are nearly two million homes and over 22,000 commercial businesses that are connected to gas. 78 per cent of domestic heating is provided by gas and 43 per cent of all gas consumed is by industry. Currently over 50 per cent of that gas is imported into the UK and set to rise significantly over the next few years.

"The reality is that it's better for the planet to be producing our gas here rather than shipping it in across oceans from elsewhere."