Ineos' positive spin on fracking in Scotland ignores public and political concerns about dangers to the environment says Friends of the Earth
Environmentalists have slammed chemicals' giant Ineos for creating a positive spin around fracking.
The company announced this week it is to invest £640 million in the controversial gas extraction process which retrieves shale gas via small explosions underground.
Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe said he wanted his company "to become the biggest player in the UK shale gas industry".
The firm added that "substantial further investment would follow if the company moved to development and production".
Ineos owns the petrochemical plant in Grangemouth which is currently running at a loss, but it says shale gas will transform the economics of the plant.
Scotland does not need unconventional gas to meet our energy needs
However Friends of the Earth Scotland said the announcement had “very little substance at its core.”
Mary Church, head of campaigns, said: “Spin masters Ineos have really outdone themselves this time, creating a huge amount of hype around an announcement with very little substance at its core.
“The UK shale gas industry is in its absolute infancy and will take many years to get anywhere near commercial production, if indeed it ever does, no matter how much money Ineos throws at it,” she said.
Complex geology and lack of data together with tough planning regulations and growing public opposition make Scotland a very poor prospect for the shale gas industry, said Church.
She added: “Ineos is well out of step with the rest of the industry who have given up claiming that shale gas will reduce energy bills.
“Nor will fracking be reviving manufacturing any time soon given the timescales, costs and sheer novelty of this industry in the UK context.”
Ineos says it will be producing shale gas in just 18 months. However Dart Energy’s plans for coalbed methane at Airth has been stuck in the planning system for over two years following mass public opposition, and has now been called in by ministers for a decision early next year.
Fracking company Cuadrilla has also confirmed that they would need to drill and frack 40 wells over a five year period to establish whether there is an economically viable resource at all.
The Scottish Government introduced tough planning rules for any unconventional gas application earlier this year.
Church continued: “Unlike its UK counterparts, the Scottish Government has taken a cautious approach to unconventional gas and fracking, introducing a tougher planning regime and opposing plans to remove peoples’ rights to object to fracking under their homes.
“Scotland does not need unconventional gas to meet our energy needs, and extracting and burning it will jeopardise our climate targets and expose local people to unacceptable health risks.
“We urge the Scottish Government to make it clear that the fracking industry has no place in Scotland by banning all unconventional gas activity once and for all.”