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Tory warns Scotland risks missing out on fracking revolution

SCOTLAND risks being left behind in the fracking revolution, the Scottish Government has been warned, after David Cameron made clear the UK Government was going "all out for shale" south of the Border.

The Prime Minister urged opponents of the controversial energy source to "get on board", stressing how the industry could create 74,000 jobs, bring more than £3 billion of investment, produce secure energy and reduce household bills.

Fracking involves pumping liquid deep underground at high pressure to fracture rock and release the gas in it.

But fears have been raised over the potential for small-scale earthquakes and water pollution and green groups say a drive to exploit new gas reserves will turn the focus away from efforts to develop a low-carbon economy to tackle climate change.

But the Coalition, certainly the Conservative party, now appears gung-ho for shale.

It has made clear English councils, which give the go-ahead for fracking, will receive not 50% of the business rates collected from the schemes but 100%. It is estimated this will bring in up to £1.7 million extra a year for local authorities from each site but environmentalists have branded the payment a "bribe".

Mr Cameron, who visited a site in Lincolnshire yesterday, claimed environmental concerns would be assuaged once people saw the benefits. "We have the strongest environmental controls in this country. Nothing would go ahead if there were environmental dangers. People can be reassured by that," he insisted.

"But it's when these wells go ahead, when people start to see the benefit, when people see there aren't environmental concerns, they will see that it is quite right that this is part of our long-term economic plan."

Murdo Fraser for the Scottish Conservatives warned Scotland was in danger of "being left behind in the fracking revolution if it does not embrace this technology quickly".

"It's time for the SNP to switch its focus away from intermittent sources like windfarms and look to shale gas as a possible solution for the future. It could help keep the lights on and provide a significant boost for our economy," he added.

But a Scottish Government spokesman made clear there were no fracking plans in Scotland at present but stressed the administration in Edinburgh would follow a "rigorous evidence-based approach in the development and deployment of this technology".

He explained as with proposals for all types of energy projects, any applications for shale gas projects in Scotland would be studied on their merits through the normal planning process and adhering to the appropriate regulations.

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