THE SNP is under pressure to introduce an immediate ban on fracking after an official report said it could damage the health of workers and local residents and even lead to explosions.

The warnings in six studies commissioned by the Scottish Government on unconventional oil and gas (UOG), which also said fracking could prove incompatible with tackling climate change and may not be economically viable given today’s energy prices.

It could also lead to £6.5 billion of investment by 2062, support 3,100 jobs at its peak, and add 0.1 per cent a year to Scottish GDP.

However the predicted tax receipts of up to £3.9bn over the same period are dwarfed by the £300bn generated from North Sea oil and gas for the UK Treasury since the 1970s.

The SNP manifesto said the party would not permit fracking unless it was “proven beyond any doubt that there is no risk to health, communities or the environment”.

Critics say the technique, which involves pumping pressurised water and chemicals into shale beds to release methane, is a threat to all three.

Publishing the reports yesterday, energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said the Government hoped to make a final decision on whether to license fracking by the end of 2017.

In the interim, there would be a four-month public consultation and a vote in Parliament.

He said the government would continue the “precautionary consultative approach” begun with its moratorium on fracking in January 2015, and would take a “broad view” on the issue.

Noting the richest shale deposits were under the densely populated Central Belt, he said: “No one study can give a conclusive view on this industry and whether or not it has a place in Scotland’s energy mix. Some will say it shows the economic impact is low and the risks too great. Others that risks can be managed and the potential economic gain cannot be ignored.”

An assessment by Health Protection Scotland said there was “inadequate” evidence that fracking posed a general risk to public health, but there was evidence of specific local threats, including “airborne and waterborne environmental hazards” and the crystalline silica used in fracking – associated with the deadly lung disease silicosis – posing a risk to UOG workers’ health.

There was also “limited” evidence that UOG hazards could “pose a risk to the health of residents”, with waterborne methane posing “a potential explosive risk”.

An economic study by KPMG said fracking could lead to investment, jobs and tax receipts, but added: “If oil and gas prices were to remain at historically low levels, it would be unlikely that UOG resources in Scotland could be developed economically.”

Other reports said leaky wells could lead to pollution, drills sites might mean heavy road traffic for communities, and fracking would be incompatible with SNP climate change targets unless offset by cuts in other fossil fuels. The risk of significant seismic activity was low.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: “The Scottish Government was elected on a manifesto that promised to ban fracking unless it could be proved beyond any doubt that there was no risk to health, communities or the environment. On the basis of what’s been published, it seems clear that fracking is doomed.”

Labour’s Claudia Beamish said: “People in central Scotland will rightly wonder why the Nationalists are dragging their heels on a decision. The climate science is clear: we do not need another fossil fuel when we need to be transitioning to clean energy.”

Ken Cronin, chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, welcomed the reports, saying they “clearly demonstrate the case for lifting the moratorium” on UOG development in Scotland.

Ineos, which imports US shale gas to its Grangemouth plant and wants to frack locally, said the reports showed fracking could take place safely in the right environment and bring thousands of jobs, millions in community benefits and billions in investment.