FRACKING in Scotland is “doomed”, according to one MSP, while another said it was clear the Scottish Government “is on a long journey to saying no”, to the controversial process.

The comments from Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell and LibDem leader Willie Rennie came after Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse published a series of reports on the technique, and said a public consultation would get under way early in 2017 with MSPs expected to vote on the process later in the year.

An economic study by KPMG – one of six reports published yesterday – suggested the technology could bring up to £6.5 billion of investment in Scotland in the coming decades, creating a potential 1,400 jobs.

However, it added that if projects were slow to develop and did not grow significantly, spending could be just £0.5bn up to 2062, with fewer than 500 jobs created at a peak. The benefit to the economy could be between £0.1bn and £4.6bn over the period.

“If oil and gas prices were to remain at historically low levels, it would be unlikely that UOG resources in Scotland could be developed economically,” said KPMG.

Wheelhouse said that a mid-point estimate suggested fracking could “lead to cumulative direct expenditure of £2.2bn in Scotland over the period to 2062”.

To put it into context, he added: “On an annual basis this represents 0.1 per cent of Scottish GDP in our central scenario.”

The Scottish Government already has a moratorium in place on fracking, and Wheelhouse said ministers commissioned the independent research as part of an evidence-based approach to the issue.

But he stressed that much of the shale oil and gas deposits are located in the central belt, “one of the most densely populated areas of Scotland”.

A public consultation will get under way early in 2017, he said, pledging it would “not simply be an opinion poll”.

“Once the consultation closes and the results have been independently analysed and published, we will make our recommendation on the future of unconventional oil and gas and allow Parliament to vote on it,” said Wheelhouse. “After which, the Scottish Government will come to a considered judgment on the future of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland.”

Rennie said: “It’s pretty clear that the Government is on a long journey to saying no to fracking and it’s good news that today it has not given the go-ahead to fracking.”

Ruskell, the Greens’ energy and environment spokesperson, added: “On the basis of what’s been published today, it seems clear that fracking is doomed. Ultimately, the evidence to ban fracking already exists. We have more fossil fuels than we can burn. If we want to limit climate change a ban on fracking will allow us to focus on stable jobs in energy efficiency and renewables.”

Scottish Tory energy spokesman Alexander Burnett claimed the oil and gas industry had been “raided to fund an economy missing out on fracking”.

Scottish Labour’s environment and climate change spokeswoman Claudia Beamish, who has launched a consultation on her Bill to ban fracking, said it was “disappointing” the Scottish Government had not announced consultation for an outright ban on onshore fracking.

However, campaigners welcomed the research. Friends of the Earth head of campaigns Mary Church said: “Fracking is bad for the climate, bad for public health and won’t do much good for the economy. That’s the damning verdict of the independent studies published by the Scottish Government today, echoing the concerns of communities across the country.

“The economic case for pursuing an unconventional gas industry in Scotland simply doesn’t stand up, while the risks of doing so could be utterly devastating for communities and the environment.”

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks added: “Looking at the three tests posed by the Government’s own independent climate watchdog, it’s very hard to see how Scotland could go ahead with fracking without breaching its carbon targets.

“According to the independent research, the direct emissions from the production process of an unregulated fracking industry alone could potentially add more than 10 per cent to our current annual climate emissions.

“And that’s before you consider the climate science, namely that the vast majority of known global fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground.”