In a contentious decision BP has been granted permission for deepwater drilling off the Scottish coast by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Not surprisingly many organisations are concerned about the drilling that will take place close to some of the most valuable sea bird colonies in the Northern Hemisphere.
An oil spill off Shetland will devastate the marine ecosystem
Energy Minister Charles Hendry said: "This consent is very positive news for the West of Shetland following the announcement in the budget aimed at increasing investment in this new frontier for oil and gas exploration.
"Oil and gas plays an important role in our economy and makes a significant contribution to our energy security but exploration should not come at a cost to the environment.
"That is why before giving consent, my department has very carefully scrutinised BP’s plans and their emergency response measures to ensure their operations are conducted to the highest possible standards."
Drilling was due to begin last year but was delayed following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico which killed 11 and resulted in five million barrels of crude pumping in to the sea.
MSP Patrick Harvie (Green Party) said “The UK minister says 'exploration should not come at a cost to the environment' but of course that's exactly what will happen. Giving the go ahead for further deepwater drilling locks us into another generation of unhealthy oil dependency” he added “We cannot afford the economic consequences of a spill and there's no need to chase new oil reserves when Scotland has so much renewable energy potential.”