In an interview about fracking for underground shale gas Ewing says that “we need to think how it will be, how it may be, applied to Scotland” and talks about the “opportunities” the industry could bring. The comments have been seized on by campaigners as evidence that the minister thinks that fracking has a future.
Ewing announced a temporary moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and coalbed methane developments on 28 January. He promised a health investigation and a public consultation, which is not now expected to begin until the autumn.
In March INEOS, the Swiss-based company that runs the Grangemouth petrochemical complex, launched a charm offensive in a bid to win community support for fracking across the central belt. The firm has bought licences for shale gas exploration across 700 square miles of Scotland and aims to become “the biggest player in the UK shale gas industry”.
In the BBC One programme, The War over Fracking, Ewing declines to say whether he will introduce a permanent ban if the Scottish public clearly rejects fracking. “Let’s look at the opportunities but also look very carefully at what it might mean for Scotland,” he says.
“We think it’s right with a technology, hydraulic fracturing, which is not new but it’s new to Scotland, we should proceed with care. We should proceed on the basis of evidence, and we should have a national debate about the topic.”