PETROCHEMICAL giant Ineos has launched a legal challenge against the Scottish Government’s fracking ban, claiming it is “unlawful”.

The Grangemouth owner said it would seek a judicial review, arguing there were “very serious errors” in the decision-making process. The Scottish Greens said the move was “predictable and desperate”.

A ban introduced in 2015 was extended indefinitely last October.

Ineos and venture partner Reach have lodged a petition at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, claiming there was a “failure to adhere to proper statutory process and a misuse of ministerial power”.

Tom Pickering (above), operations director at Ineos Shale, said: “We have serious concerns about the legitimacy of the ban and have therefore applied to the court to ask that it review the competency of the decision to introduce it.

“Ineos, Reach and other operators have invested significantly in unconventional development over the years, against a supportive regulatory and planning backdrop. If Scotland wants to continue to be considered as a serious place to do business, then it cannot remove the policy support that attracted that investment in the first place without proper procedures being followed and without the offer of appropriate financial compensation.”

Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: “This is a predictable and desperate attempt by an industry sinking under public protest in England to try to salvage the last drop of commercial benefit in Scotland.

“Scotland doesn’t want or need fracking and Ineos should accept it lost the democratic debate in the Scottish Parliament.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns Mary Church said: “Ineos’s legal challenge reeks of desperation from an industry that is failing to get results in Scotland, the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

“We are confident the process to ban fracking was robust and fair, and that the courts will find against Ineos.”