Environmental groups reacted with alarm to the speculation that a gas leak off the coast of Aberdeen in the North Sea could go on for at least six months.
Oil company Total, which evacuated workers from its platform in the field because of the leak on Sunday, reportedly said it could take that long to resolve the situation.
Paul Steedman, campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: “Leaks like this make Osborne’s dash for gas even more absurd – it could be months before it’s sorted, posing a huge safety risk to workers and releasing a greenhouse gas 20 times more climate-wrecking than carbon dioxide.
“Gas is already pushing our fuel bills through the roof – now people will be wondering whether they’ll be asked to cover the cost of the leak.”
However the Scottish Government has downplayed the environmental impact of the leak.
Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment said late yesterday: “The Scottish Government continues to closely monitor developments at the Elgin/Rowan Viking gas installation in the North Sea.
“Efforts by Total to resolve the gas leak are ongoing. As the situation currently stands impact on the environment – which is the Scottish Government’s area of responsibility – is minimal.”