ANTI-fracking campaigners clashed with petrochemical giant Ineos at the first public meeting over the company's controversial plans to extract shale gas in Scotland.


The owners of the Grangemouth petrochemical refinery were greeted with bursts of laughter after they stressed to residents and opponents of their plans how they took safety and environmental regulations seriously.

Campaigners labelled the plans "a mad misadventure to make money" by beginn at a packed meeting in Denny High School in Stirlingshire. The company plans to give six per cent, around £2.5 billion, of its profits to communities.

The meeting was organised to allow both sides of the debate to put the case for and against the extraction of shale gas from the ground.

In the first of a series of meetings, more than 100 residents gathered to hear a presentation by Tom Pickering, Ineos development director, at the first in a series of public consultation exercises, described by environmentalists as a campaign of 'love bombing communities'.

Friends of the Earth Scotland has accused the company, which offered up to £2.5bn to communities across the UK in return for hosting fracking sites, of resorting to "spin-doctors and glossy videos" in an effort to win over communities.

The meeting last night began with a video presentation on why the company wanted to develop shale gas after acquiring full fracking rights for a 127sq ml site that stretches to Bishopbriggs.

Mr Pickering told campaigners "we want to explain how we intend to keep fracking safe", saying they took safety and environmental concerns seriously.

He said the meeting was the start of a long process and Ineos wanted to "listen to everyone here tonight."

Janette McGowan, 59, part of the Cauge Against Unconventional Gas Extraction, said: "There are so many environmental issues.

"This is a mad misadventure to make money. There are no measures in place to say how safe it is and not one of the communities it is going to effect want it to happen."

Campaigners confronted Ineso bosses in a heated question and answer session which, at times, saw angry residents shouting their concerns.

Maria Montenaro, who is also part of the Cauge Against Unconventional Gas Extraction, said: "Ineos are not telling us the full story.

"The problem is the density and the number of wells that the extraction of shale gas is going to need."

Campaigners also put together a petition against fracking, which has so far gathered around 600 signatures.

Other concerns raised at the meeting were the number of lorries passing through towns everyday - which Ineos admitted could be "hundreds" at the start of developing fracking sites.

They repeated assurances that safety and environmental issues were paramount and the process would be safe.

Ineos has warned the future of the Grangemouth site was "unknown" after 2030 when their contract for importing shale gas from the US runs out. They said North Sea gas is running low.

The company, which employs 1,300 people, wants to develop its own supply of shale gas from Scottish sites and said the move could create "tens of thousands" of jobs, revolutionise failing industries and "transform" communities.

Fears have been raised that multi-million pound 'sweeteners' will split communities and pit neighbours against themselves.