ENERGY minister Fergus Ewing has come under renewed pressure to grant Scots communities greater safeguards against fracking.

He faced calls to give local communities a veto over plans to drill for shale gas in their area, as he prepared to make a statement to MSPs today (Weds).

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy urged Mr Ewing to ban fracking until lessons from shale gas extraction in England had been learned and more was known about the science.

He also said fracking should not be allowed in Scotland unless it was backed by local people in a referendum.

In a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, he said: "I want Scotland to go further than elsewhere in the UK on fracking.

"Ultimately the Scottish Government has the final say over any fracking that takes place in Scotland, through the planning process.

"Scottish Government ministers already have the power to stop fracking now.

"In light of this, I'd be grateful if you will confirm that your government will use planning laws to ensure no fracking takes place in Scotland without approval from the community affected through a local referendum."

The call came after Labour forced the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition into a climbdown on fracking by winning support in the House of Commons for a moratorium until a set of practical and environmental conditions are met.

The SNP criticised some Labour MPs for abstaining in a Commons vote on the party's own mechanism for delaying fracking.

SNP energy spokesman at Westminster Mike Weir said: "The SNP support a UK moratorium to ensure that no more licences for fracking are granted before full powers over licensing are transferred to the Scottish Parliament.

"The Scottish Government has taken a cautious, considered and evidence based approach and this is a perfect illustration why all powers over fracking, both licensing and planning, should be transferred to the Scottish Parliament so it is able to take decisions in the interests of the people of Scotland."