The Scottish government launched a public consultation on the topic of unconventional oil and gas and fracking in the country on Tuesday.
The government is asking the public whether hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and coal bed methane extraction should be allowed in the country.
Fracking involves pressurized water and chemicals to extract shale oil and gas underground, and is often used in combination with horizontal drilling. Opponents of the practice cite environmental concerns as reasons to stop the controversial technique.
A dedicated website (www.talkingfracking.scot) has been created for the duration of the consultation, which will run until May 31.
In January 2015, Scotland put in place a moratorium on unconventional oil and gas development in the country and ensured the U.K. government issued no further unconventional oil and gas licenses for sites in Scotland.
“The debate on the future of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland has proven both complex and controversial," said Paul Wheelhouse, minister for business, innovation and energy.
“The Scottish Government has sought to present impartial, independent information on unconventional oil and gas in order to encourage informed dialogue and debate," Wheelhouse added.
Most of Scotland’s unconventional oil and gas deposits occur in and around former coalfields and oil shale fields in Scotland’s Central Belt, which contains some of the most densely populated areas of the country.
The Scottish government will reach a final decision on the future of unconventional oil and gas extraction in the country by the end of 2017.
The results of the public consultation will be included in the decision-making process, the government said.
By Zeynep Beyza Kilic