comment: It will pay in the long run to be prepared

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You’ve read about it, seen the protests and now it’s here. Fracking could soon be the word on everyone’s lips as the British Geological Survey is assessing shale gas deposits across the Central Belt.

That in turn could pave the way for drilling . . . and a whole lot of trouble.

There is a long way – and a huge debate – to go before that happens but today’s news fires the starting gun on what may well prove to be one of the most controversial issues to hit the Lothians in recent years.

If they are not already, our local councils, need to get on top of this issue, and fast.

And it is not just West Lothian which needs to look alert.

East Lothian, Midlothian and Edinburgh will all have an interest to some extent over the coming years.

The first job is understanding what we might be facing, and assessing the potential environmental impacts and risks.

At the same time, we have to weigh up what could be massive potential benefits for the economy and energy supply of the region.

Key will be keeping local residents informed every step of the way, arming them with the solid information they need and conducting all discussions in an open and transparent fashion.

As we have seen from the 
protests elsewhere, fracking is a highly controversial and emotive issue.

Our elected representatives will need to see past the emotion 
on both sides to reach informed decisions which can be justified 
not just now but to future generations.

The implications are enormous.

We don’t know what the result of the survey will be or how soon firm plans for fracking may arrive in the Lothians if at all.

But it will pay in the long run to be prepared.

One way or another fracking is here to stay.

Get ready for quite a debate.