Tayside and Central Scotland

Grangemouth operator Ineos begins fracking consultation

Grangemouth petrochemical plant Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ineos hopes fracking could help supply the Grangemouth petrochemical plant

Ineos, operator of the Grangemouth petrochemical plant, has started a community consultation process to try to win support for fracking.

The development of unconventional gas extraction has been halted by a Scottish government moratorium.

Ineos said it was unconcerned about the moratorium and a spokesman promised to drink "a lot of tea in a lot of village halls" to try to win the argument.

Shale gas extraction is opposed by environmental campaigners.

Friends of the Earth said Ineos had the budget for "a long and dirty fight", while community and campaign groups could only fight their corner "on a shoestring".

The first local consultation meeting has been scheduled for Denny, near Stirling, on 16 April.

Other towns in the first phase of meetings include Alloa, Falkirk, Kilsyth, Bishopbriggs and Cumbernauld.

Ineos has bought licences for shale gas exploration across 700 square miles (1,126 sq km) of land in central Scotland but the government moratorium has left a question mark over the future of the industry locally.

Ineos said its shale gas information programme would highlight both the issues and benefits of shale gas extraction as well as making the company available to answer questions about its plans for production in Scotland and elsewhere.

Ineos Upstream CEO Gary Haywood said: "The Scottish government wants the public to be fully informed about shale gas production and we are determined to help.

"We are launching Scotland's biggest shale gas information programme to make sure that local communities get a chance to hear the facts rather than the myths about shale gas."

The company said as many meetings as possible would be led by its director Tom Pickering.

A number of campaign groups oppose fracking.

Mary Church, head of campaigns for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "Fracking is a dangerous, dirty industry and all the money in the world can't hide that.

"No amount of slick roadshows are going to allay the concerns of communities who have heard about the reality of the impacts of this industry in the USA and Australia. No amount of PR spin can hide the climate change impact of exploiting shale gas.

"Scottish communities have been fighting the unconventional gas industry for years, and are already very well informed. It's no surprise that Ineos are resorting to spin-doctors and glossy videos to try and lovebomb Scottish communities into stop worrying and learn to love fracking."

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