The Scottish public must be given a genuine opportunity to influence the decision-making process on fracking and other unconventional gas developments, according to a report.

In a wide-ranging report, The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) said they must be allowed to influence the decision-making process and be provided with meaningful information.

The report follows a Scottish Government announcement in January of a temporary moratorium on unconventional gas development, including the use of fracking, to allow for a national debate.

Lead author and RSE Fellow Professor Rebecca Lunn said: "It is imperative that we consider the wider issue of how Scotland, as part of the UK, will meet demand for the gas required to heat homes and supply industry over the coming decades.

"We should not let the debate focus narrowly on unconventional gas or hydraulic fracturing. There are no easy solutions when it comes to supplying our energy needs; local impacts must be weighed up against issues of energy security, carbon emissions and social justice."

The report highlights the importance of considering unconventional gas development in Scotland within the context of the UK's need for gas to heat homes and for use in industry.

The paper, Options for Scotland's Gas Future, sets out the advantages and risks associated with importing gas or producing it domestically on- or offshore.

Issues around reducing energy use are also discussed. Scotland is committed to meeting climate change targets. Any action taken on gas supply has to be consistent with these environmental goals, in addition to addressing energy security, cost to the consumer and public acceptance.

Reducing the need for gas would have to occur in line with a demand reduction across the entire energy sector, added the report, which said that simply moving heat demand from gas to electricity would put further stress on electricity generation.