an anti-fracking protesters camp in Balcome, West Sussex (Reuters)
An anti-fracking protesters camp in Balcombe, West Sussex (Reuters)

The world's fourth biggest chemicals company Ineos is to pump up to $1bn into Scotland's shale gas exploration and production sectors.

The Swiss-based company, which is run by the British businessman Jim Ratcliffe, will use the resources as feedstock for its chemical plants, such as the giant Grangemouth refinery complex.

The company has stated that by fracking British supplies of shale gas, it hopes to reverse the fortunes of Grangemouth, which is currently operating at a loss.

Ineos has been hoovering up licenses to explore potential fracking sites in Stirlingshire and the Midland Valley. In August it bought the rights to explore a 127 square mile area around Grangemouth.

The company has previously said that it will give more than £2bn of the revenue it attains from fracking to communities close to its wells, in an effort to convince locals to support the technology.

This move has been slammed by NGOs as "bribery". Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns Mary Church said: "This transparent attempt to bribe communities and homeowners to accept fracking in their backyards will be rejected by people who value their health, their community and their local environment. Fracking is a dangerous, dirty industry and all the money in the world can't hide that."

Ineos was the company at the centre of a dispute with the trade union Unite, which saw the Grangemouth plant grind to a standstill. Ineos planned to close the petrochemical plant at the giant but keep the neighbouring refinery open.