ONE of Scotland's most influential firms has launched a new attack on Labour over its policy to ban fracking.

Ineos, which wants to establish a shale gas industry in Scotland and wider UK, told Jeremy Corbyn in an open letter that his newly-adopted policy would mean a reliance on "unstable and illiberal regimes" for energy imports.

The UK party recently adopted Scottish Labour's plan to back an outright fracking ban. It is understood that Ineos, owner of the Grangemouth petrochemical plant and oil refinery which accounts for four per cent of Scottish GDP, has also written to Labour MSPs Jackie Baillie and Claudia Beamish calling for a rethink.

Gary Haywood, the chief executive of Ineos Shale, told Mr Corbyn that the firm was "deeply disappointed" with the recent announcement, made at the party's annual conference.

He added: "This is not a shale gas versus renewables debate – both are needed in our energy mix in the decades ahead. Those who are opposed to extracting natural gas must be called upon to articulate what they would do to fulfil societal energy and materials needs.

"As North Sea reserves decline, it falls upon us to find new sources of energy to maintain the standard of living that we have become accustomed to. We currently import almost 60 per cent of our gas and this figure will only climb in the coming years.

"Is it not better that we source our energy from our own land where we can control the regulation than pay a series of unstable and illiberal regimes to do it for us?"

Mr Haywood cited a report commissioned by the Scottish Government, which has introduced a moratorium on fracking, to back up his claims that a fracking industry could be developed safely.

He added: "Sadly, over the last few decades the nation has seen a collapse in manufacturing and a loss of the high-paid skilled jobs that go with it. We believe that the shale gas industry could reverse this decline as has happened in America. It would a tragedy not to move forward with this unique opportunity which could transform communities across some of the poorest parts of the country."

A moratorium in Scotland is set to end next year, following a period of evidence gathering and a public consultation which will inform a decision over whether to ban fracking or give it the green light. The process, with sees water, sand and chemicals pumped deep underground to fracture shale rock and release gas, has been blamed by environmentalists for water contamination, earthquakes and attacked on the basis it means a continued reliance on fossil fuels.

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "Labour has been clear - we will ban onshore fracking. The science tells us that the last thing we need is another fossil fuel when the long term direction of our economy and our energy strategy has to be investing in renewables,rather than drilling in populated parts of the UK including central Scotland."