AN anti-fracking demonstration planned for the SNP conference will serve as a "major embarrassment" to Nicola Sturgeon, according to Scottish Labour.

Members of the SNP Members Against Unconventional Oil and Gas (SMAUG) group will join with other organisations at the Glasgow event this weekend to call for a total fracking ban in Scotland.

The First Minister has so far refused pressure to rule out allowing fracking once a moratorium comes to an end next year following a period of evidence gathering and research.

Demonstrators plan to link hands around the SECC, where the SNP event is taking place, in a bid to send a message to the party leadership on the first day of conference on Saturday.

In a statement, SMAUG said it wanted to show "SNP members and officers the strength of feeling in local communities against all forms of unconventional gas extraction and the extent to which they have informed themselves about it to protect their communities, their health and their environment."

It added that at the last count, three quarters of SNP members were against unconventional oil and gas extraction and that it aimed to "recall the SNP’s pledge at the Westminster elections to oppose fracking".

Advocates of fracking say it could offer an economic lifeline to Scotland, potentially offsetting dwindling revenues and reserves from the North Sea. However, opponents claim the method has been responsible for earthquakes and water contamination and means a continued reliance on burning fossil fuels.

Fracking sees a mix of water, sand and chemicals pumped deep underground to fracture shale rock and release trapped gas. There are significant shale reserves across central Scotland.

Sarah Boyack, Scottish Labour's environment spokeswoman, said that the protest showed that even SNP members did not believe Ms Sturgeon on fracking, despite the First Minister revealing last week that she is "highly sceptical" about the technique.

Ms Boyack added: "The SNP are leaving the door open for drilling after the election. Their energy minister made it clear - if the reports that will be published after the election give fracking the green light then they will allow drilling.

"We know that the Nicola Sturgeon met with Ineos the day the temporary fracking freeze was announced and we know now that John Swinney has met with them at least twice since. No wonder the SNP grassroots are planning a protest, like the rest of Scotland they just want a straight answer from the SNP Government.

"Nicola Sturgeon needs to give a straight answer: if the research comes back saying fracking is safe, will she lift her temporary delay? When it comes to fracking the SNP seem to be pretending to people that a moratorium is a permanent ban, but protests at their own party conference show that even party members aren’t buying that spin."