Chemicals giant Ineos is to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in shale gas exploration, giving the industry a huge boost.
Shale gas is extracted through a technique known as fracking, in which water and chemicals are injected into rock at high pressure. The process is hugely controversial and has sparked protests at several sites across the UK.
The Government has been supportive of fracking, offering incentives to local communities for accommodating fracking and tax breaks to fracking companies.
In January, David Cameron issued a warning to the European Union that imposing “burdensome” regulations on shale gas exploration would deter investment and job creation.
“We should be clear that if the European Union or its member states impose burdensome, unjustified or premature regulatory burdens on shale gas exploration in Europe, investors will quickly head elsewhere,” said the prime minister.
Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government have taken a very cautious approach to unconventional gas and fracking, unlike the UK Government.
“With much tougher planning rules, more ambitious climate targets and a review of both health issues and licensing under way, Scotland is the last place any company should apply to frack.”
Ineos will unveil plans later today to press ahead with its previously announced intention to produce shale gas for its plant in Grangemouth, Scotland.