THE tendering of the first set of research contracts to study the potential effects of fracking in Scotland has been announced.

It was confirmed at the weekend that four separate bodies will research elements of the fracking process, including seismic damage, effects on the economy and transport and the decommissioning of drilling sites.

Although the general aims of the research initiatives were released late last year, the Scottish Government are remaining tight-lipped on the exact details of the projects.

The British Geological Survey will be undertaking the research to “better understand” how unconventional oil and gas activities in Scotland could lead to induced seismic activity.

BGS officials will also be looking at “the robust regulatory and non-regulatory actions that can be taken to mitigate any noticeable effects on communities”.

The research into economic impacts will be undertaken by KPMG, while research on transport impacts will be carried out by Ramboll Environ UK Limited.

AECOM will be studying decommissioning, site restoration and aftercare while public health risks and climate change are respectively being looked into by Health Protection Scotland and the Committee on Climate Change, an independent body which advises the UK Government and devolved governments on tackling climate change.

Anti-fracking groups reacted cautiously, with some saying the research process is just a chance for the Scottish Government to keep both sides of the debate happy.

The SNP recently rejected a motion calling for a complete ban on fracking for their spring conference which was put forward by over 20 branches. The party said the issue was already discussed at their last conference in October. Multinational chemical company INEOS, which owns 700sq miles of potential fracking land in Scotland, paid several thousand pounds for a stall at the 2015 conference in Aberdeen.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “No fracking can or will take place while the Scottish Government’s moratorium on unconventional oil and gas remains in place. We appreciate there are strong views on the different sides of the debate on unconventionals but welcome that both the environmental NGOs and the industry support our moratorium and plans for research and consultation.”