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Thursday 16th
posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe has received private assurances from the SNP that it does not oppose fracking, he claimed yesterday.

The Switzerland-based billionaire said his business was given the nod earlier this year during private talks with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon — on the same day her party confirmed a moratorium on the damaging extraction process.

Mr Ratcliffe believes that an onshore shale gas industry could be operating commercially as early as 2018.

Ineos currently holds fracking exploration licences across 700 miles of Scotland, and will soon be seeking formal approval to begin drilling and carrying out seismic testing, which Mr Ratcliffe is confident will not breach the terms of the moratorium.

Frack Off Fife activist Tam Kirby told the Star that Mr Ratcliffe’s announcement “does not come as a major surprise. 

“The SNP has always been very cagey when responding to queries regarding unconventional gas extraction. 

“Now is the time for the SNP to come clean on the whole matter.

“If Ratcliffe is wrong, then the SNP needs to now change from having a moratorium on fracking to a complete and outright ban.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Dr Richard Dixon added: “Nicola Sturgeon urgently needs to publish a note of their meeting and make a statement on what she did and didn’t say to the Ineos boss.”

A Scottish government spokesperson said that these revelations were simply what had already been said publicly on the issue, namely that “no fracking can or will take place in Scotland while the moratorium we have announced remains in place, a policy that has received wide support from both environmental groups and industry.”