GRANGEMOUTH petrochemical giant Ineos has made a last ditch plea to stop any fracking ban "for the sake of Scotland".

It comes as it has been suggested that the Scottish Government could confirm within days that it is to announce a ban on the controversial practice replacing the moratorium they started in January 2015.

This would spell the end of plans by the energy industry to frack for shale gas under swathes of central Scotland.

Ineos, the company with the most to lose from a fracking ban appealed for the "small but noisy anti-science and anti-business minority" to stop putting the nation's economy at risk by scuppering fracking plans.

HeraldScotland:

Ineos, led by fossil-fuel entrepreneur, Jim Ratcliffe which now has most of the 28 licence applications for fracking around Grangemouth and across the central belt, believes that the logic of any proposed ban would mean a probition of increased gas production from the North Sea.

Tom Pickering, operations director of INEOS Shale said: "This 'anywhere but Scotland' attitude among a very small but noisy anti science and anti business minority has to stop - for the sake of the nation.

HeraldScotland:

"So 60,000 people responded to the Scottish Government's survey but the other five million in Scotland didn't. They are the ones the Scottish Government will have to answer to if business and industry decides the political climate in Scotland isn't worth the risk of investment.

"Our view is that for Scotland's sake, the decision of the Scottish Government [should be] to lift the moratorium."

In recent months the firm has been focussing its efforts on its licences in the north of England while in Scotland it has made much of its “dragon ships” that are bringing ethane from fracking wells in Pennsylvania in the United States.

HeraldScotland:

And Gary Haywood, INEOS Shale chief executive in response to a fracking ban consultation told ministers that the firm is reaping the economic benefits of shale gas and that it has helped secure the future of the Grangemouth site which employs 1,300 people and uses gas as a raw material to make compounds and plastics.

"Scotland has an incredible heritage of engineering and scientific endeavour and excellence and this anti-science proposal runs counter to that heritage," he said.

"It would a tragedy not to move forward with this unique opportunity which could transform communities across Scotland."

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens have already made their opposition to fracking clear, with Labour having pledged to bring forward legislation if the Scottish Government fails to act.

Environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish made clear she would press ahead with that if ministers did not ban the practice completely.

Ms Beamish said: "Anything less than an outright ban of onshore fracking in all its forms would be a betrayal by the SNP Government of our climate change commitments, our communities and the job opportunities now and for future generations in clean, renewable energy.

"Fracking would be a dirty distraction, not a transition fuel.

"When the SNP Government finally makes a statement, after so much delay, I will be looking for absolute clarity on how it will proceed to a total ban.

HeraldScotland:

"Otherwise, I will continue with my Member's Bill to ban onshore fracking, to make sure that we protect our planet for this and future generations to come."

And Green co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP said: “There’s a growing impatience over the SNP’s inability to announce an outright ban. I really hope they make a statement this week because communities across Scotland deserve certainty.

“Greens, environmental groups and a sizeable chunk of the SNP’s own supporters want the government to come off the fence and announce more than a moratorium – a position that’s giving hope to fossil fuel companies that they can soon set their drill rigs up across Scotland.

"Greens have opposed fracking from the start and given the risks it poses to public health, the safety of workers and the damage to our reputation as a climate change leader, it's time for the Scottish Government to make the right decision and rule out fracking for good.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Ministers are considering the evidence, including the results of the consultation and will put their recommendation on the way forward to the Scottish Parliament for MSPs to vote on this important issue before the end of this calendar year."

For the ban: Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland.

HeraldScotland:

If the Scottish Government decides to ban fracking they can celebrate joining a growing number of states and regions around the world who have put similar restrictions in place. No state has put a moratorium on fracking in place, looked at the evidence, and then decided it’s a good idea.

The evidence presented to the Scottish Government over the past two and a half years of moratorium documents a truly alarming catalogue of hazards and risks that the fracking industry would bring with it. These range from irreversible pollution of our water sources, to an increase in climate-changing emissions, to harm to the health of people unfortunate enough to live in the path of the industry.

The potential health risks alone are enough to merit a ban on the fracking industry. Studies in the US suggest low birth weights and congenital heart defects in babies born to mothers living in the vicinity of wells; respiratory, heart and kidney diseases and cancers. 
But climate change too, increasingly features as a key factor in the implementation of bans and moratoriums around the world. Not just because of the impact that highly potent greenhouse gas methane leaking from fracking infrastructure has on the climate, but because the fact that we cannot afford to open up any new frontiers of fossil fuels if we are to avert catastrophic global warming is beginning to sink in.

A ban in Scotland would remove the terrible uncertainty that communities living in areas under license have faced these last six years, and the threat of these impacts. It would say that the Scottish Government listens when the people speak. It would signal that Scotland is ready to move on from our fossil-fuelled past and focus on delivering a zero-carbon economy, with all the shared benefits it will bring, if planned and delivered with justice at its heart.

Against the ban: Tom Pickering, INEOS Shale operations director

HeraldScotland:

We simply can not import everything and export our responsibilities. 
Scotland has the skills to take the unconventional oil and gas industry forward responsibly but has already squandered any 'first mover advantage' it had in establishing a vibrant supply sector to the industry. England is now in the driving seat thanks to the moratorium put in place in 2015.

The expert view from two separate studies on behalf of the Scottish Government conclude that unconventional oil and gas can be developed safely and with respect for the environment. 
Political judgments and misjudgements come and go however let's take a moment to pause at the precipice and look at the position and the impact to the Scottish economy and nation. 

The Green Party have an ideological position, the Labour Party in Scotland in a blatantly populist attempt to seize political capital have ignored the engineers and the scientists and opted for the unforgivable misrepresentation and scaremongering of Friends of the Earth Scotland. Scottish Labour would do well to remember that Scotland deserves and expects better.

The Conservative Party have been consistently supportive while the SNP has so far trod the path of finding out the facts. It would be a great disservice to the people of Scotland and its exalted history of scientific and engineering excellence to be frittered away in the name of political posturing.

Our view is that for Scotland's sake, the decision of the Scottish Government [should be] to lift the moratorium. In so doing create an environment where manufacturing can grow, where the loss of revenue from the North Sea can be replaced and where gas continues to be an income stream for the economy rather than a cost.