FIFE Council want answers from the Scottish Government on their approach to fracking and underground coal gasification (UCG).

With the first shipment of shale gas travelling under the Forth bridges yesterday, the minister for business, innovation and energy has been pressed for clarity.

In October last year, the Scottish Government announced a moratorium on consents for unconventional oil and gas developments to enable further research and a public consultation was carried out.

The council’s depute leader, Councillor Lesley Laird, has now written to Paul Wheelhouse MSP for an update and details on how Fifers can have their say.

She said: "When the moratoriums were confirmed, the Scottish Government indicated that there would be extensive stakeholder engagement, across a number of themes, designed to establish an evidence-based approach to dealing with the matter of unconventional gas and fracking as well as determining the Scottish Government's position on whether or not these technologies should be allowed in Scotland.

“Fife Council passed a motion in May this year opposing all fracking and any unconventional gas extraction in Fife. We should now be heading toward the end of the initial review period and the report-back phase, as outlined in the Scottish Government's timetable for the review which was published when the moratoriums were announced."

Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release and then capture the gas inside.

UCG is a method of extracting gas from coal that is deep underground. Oxygen and steam is injected into the seam and the seam then set on fire, with the gases then captured.

Cluff Natural Resources had been granted a licence by the Coal Authority for UCG in the Forth, covering a 3,687-hectare site which includes the coastline from Kincardine to Crombie Point.

They said there was an estimated 335 million tonnes of coal under the seabed in the licence area but the firm pulled all funding for the project after the moratorium was announced.

Cllr Laird added: “As Fife is one of the local authority areas likely to be most impacted by unconventional energy, we want to make sure that elected representatives, local communities and businesses are fully engaged in decisions that will shape their local area.

"We want to ensure that the processes are in place to make the best decisions possible for the people living and working around the Firth of Forth, preserve the local environment and support local democracy.”