A north-east MP has urged residents to get in touch if they are concerned about fracking for shale gas in the area.
Sir Robert Smith, Liberal Democrat member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, said it “makes sense” to explore for the controversial fossil fuel.
However, he insisted that affected communities should be compensated for any impact, and that regulators should learn lessons from the offshore industry.
Sir Robert, a senior member of Westminster’s energy and climate change committee, spoke out after the UK Government said this week that parts of Aberdeenshire could be opened up to fracking.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change launched its 14th onshore licensing round on Monday, making vast parts of Britain available for oil and gas exploration.
Land around Stonehaven, Laurencekirk and Inverbervie have been included, alongside a large section of central Scotland and Tayside.
Shale gas, which is natural gas trapped in rock, has become a key resource in the US, where the industry is booming and energy prices have plummeted, leaving other countries investigating their own deposits.
Hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – is often used to recover oil and gas that is too tightly bound into, and involves cracking open rocks using a mixture of water, sand and chemicals.
However, opponents of fracking fear the process could induce earthquakes.
Sir Robert said: “Communities effected by onshore drilling should receive payment to cover the impact it has on them.
“As well as meeting strict licence conditions any exploration proposal must comply with planning and environmental conditions.
“In addition the water they need must meet the same abstraction controls as other users have to.
“I am keen to hear from anyone concerned about this announcement to make licences available.
“Even as we move to low carbon energy production we will need supplies of gas. It certainly makes sense to use our own gas where possible rather than rely on increased amounts being imported.
“At the moment we do not know how useable the shale gas resource is and it is only through exploration that we will be able to establish its full potential.”
He added: “As a result of the Cullen Enquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster the UK has a highly respected regulatory regime that will control the safety of any exploration.
“The lessons learned in the North Sea must not be forgotten when it comes to considering onshore exploration.”