The Scottish Conservatives plan to get thousands of redundant oil and gas workers jobs in the fracking industry if elected in May.
The Press and Journal can reveal Ruth Davidson’s party manifesto will commit to “utilising the expertise” of offshore workers to develop unconventional gas extraction in Scotland.
Scottish Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens support an outright ban on fracking, while the SNP have imposed a moratorium on the controversial practice.
The Scottish Conservatives have supported introducing fracking in Scotland – but this is the first time they have specifically outlined how their plans will work.
Ms Davidson’s party manifesto, which will be launched today in Glasgow, says the “decades of experience” in the north-east would be used to “safely extract unconventional gas, with planning consent from local communities”.
A source within the Scottish Conservative’s added: “Opposition to fracking has become a political tool which is skewing the argument.
“We have a great range of skilled workers in the north east who are currently out of a job because of the oil price crash.
“We think exploring the idea of fracking could bring those people back into work, and ensure a secure energy supply for Scotland for years to come.
“It would also provide a much needed boost for an industry which is under unprecedented pressure.”
The Scottish Conservative’s manifesto will also include pledges to keep Scottish tax rates the same as, or lower than, the rest of the UK, as well as invest in the NHS.
On fracking, the party’s manifesto will say: “We won’t participate in the present political posturing over unconventional gas by our opponents, especially in light of recent developments at Grangemouth, which was only saved through shale gas imports from the US.
“Scotland has decades of experience in offshore drilling and hydraulic fracturing, with the best environmental safety regime in the world.
“With thousands of job losses across the north east, we should utilise this expertise to safely extract unconventional gas, with planning consent from local communities.”