AN SNP MP has admitted that he will continue to oppose fracking even if research commissioned by Nicola Sturgeon proves the controversial gas extraction technique to be entirely safe.

Martyn Day will today witness the first ever shipment of fracked gas from US shale fields arrive in Scotland when a huge purpose built ship docks at chemical giant Ineos's Grangemouth industrial plant, the largest employer in his Linlithgow and East Falkirk constituency.

While SNP ministers are to snub the event and protestors are expected at the site, Mr Day will attend and said he welcomed the arrival of fracking gas from America because the new supply line, which will ensure regular deliveries for years to come, will secure "real jobs" in the area.

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But he insisted he will continue to oppose the method in Scotland, rejecting a claim from Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire Ineos boss who wants to establish a fracking industry across the central belt, that welcoming overseas imports of shale gas while opposing it at home amounted to hypocrisy.

Mr Day said: "I'm relaxed about them bringing it in because the Americans have their own democratic system and they've allowed this to go ahead. In some cases fracking wells are well away from residential areas, so it's a different perspective to here.

"If this gives [Ineos] a lifeline supply for that part of the business for the next decade or so that can only be welcomed. Maybe not enthusiastically, but welcomed none the less because that's real jobs."

The MP said he backed a Scottish Government moratorium on fracking, which sees water, sand and chemicals pumped deep underground to fracture shale rock and release gas. The moratorium will remain in place until new research and a public consultation is carried out to inform an "evidence-led" decision over whether to ban it permanently or give it the green light.

But, adopting a similar argument to the one used to justify a ban on GM foods which saw the SNP criticised for an "anti-science" approach to policy last year, he admitted he had already made his mind up about the method because allowing it would harm Scotland's reputation, and potentially its food and drink industry, even if it did no damage to the environment or health.

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He added: "Fracking is something I don't want to see happen. Even if they come back with evidence to say this can be done, technically, safely and without a problem, the issue then becomes reputational damage. This modern technology - fracking - frightens people and they're not convinced by it."

The SNP's Angus MacDonald, who represents the Grangemouth area at Holyrood and has also publicly voiced concerns about fracking, hailed the arrival of the shale gas as a "positive step" for both the local economy and Scotland. He added: "This first shipment stands as a symbol of security for industry in Grangemouth for the foreseeable future."

Murdo Fraser, the finance spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said fracking would bring "fantastic economic opportunities" when transported from America and would help alleviate fuel poverty if allowed in Scotland. He added: "How the SNP can’t recognise the hypocrisy of welcoming the delivery of shale, while opposing its extraction, is a mystery."

David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, will also attend today's event and is expected to praise Ineos for its achievement in securing a 'virtual pipeline' of shale gas from the US, with the firm building a fleet of eight ships.

The shipment arrives today after fracking became the subject of a fierce debate at Labour's conference, with the GMB union hitting out after the UK party announced it would follow Kezia Dugdale's lead by backing an outright ban.

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Scottish Labour went into last May's election calling for fracking to be banned completely, and shadow energy secretary Barry Gardiner yesterday adopted the position, in a move that was hailed by environmental campaigners.

However, Gary Smith, the GMB’s Scotland Secretary, said: "Britain needs gas. The first fracked gas from America arrives tomorrow at Grangemouth. Carting gas across oceans is not good from the environment and not good for security of supply in the UK."