THE growing number of voices across Scottish industrial and political life speaking-up for the potential benefits of fracking should be welcomed because, after all, this is a debate about our energy future and the national interest (“Ineos throws down gauntlet as it fights back on fracking”, The Herald, June 15.

According to the Scottish Government’s own data, 78 per cent of Scottish households need gas to heat their homes - an increase of six per cent over the last decade. Our chemicals manufacturing sector, a huge chunk of what little we have left of manufacturing in Scotland, needs gas as an affordable feedstock.

So the idea that we can heat our homes or run our industries without fossil fuels anytime soon is a nonsense and fracking presents a viable opportunity to help address the economic, employment and energy challenges of today and tomorrow.

That’s why the sobering interventions from the likes of Ineos Upstream Chief Executive Gary Haywood and former deputy eader of the SNP Jim Sillars should snap the likes of Scottish Labour out of their slumbering on fracking.

Abandoning a balanced energy strategy will mean importing more gas from questionable regimes which have no regard whatsoever for human rights or the environment, never mind tackling fuel poverty or redistributing wealth in the form of job creation.

Indeed, the likely reality for many people will be an increase in their heating bills as affordable gas comes offline and dependence on more expensive electricity from renewables increases. There is no political kudos to be earned here.

The mature and sensible course of action would be to allow the consultations, studies and testing to take place on fracking while debating as a parliament about how we can maximise and regulate the opportunities it affords us.

Gary Smith,

GMB Scotland Secretary,

Fountain House, 1/3 Woodside Crescent, Charing Cross, Glasgow.