An influential committee of MPs has called on the Government to speed up progress on fracking.
A report from the Energy and Climate Change Committee today said that although economic benefits of shale gas may not mirror those in the USA, the technology, if closely regulated, is safe and drilling should go ahead.
It also recommended that local communities should reap benefits of fracking and have any concerns allayed.
But opponents of fracking say the report shows that shale gas may not help reduce the UK’s carbon footprint or reduce gas costs.
The report says: “Progress has been slow because of the 18 month moratorium on drilling. We do not believe it was necessary to take so long to establish the safety of fracking.”
It said evidence from the extensive operations in the US showed it was so. “Had there been any serious consequences they would have come to light,” it added.
It says there are “potentially substantial benefits” from exploiting shale gas deposits but it was uncertain how much of the deposits could be recovered economically. The effect on gas prices was also uncertain and it could increase our carbon footprint.
It says: “We are keen to see exploration proceed quickly.”
But it warns the UK shale gas industry can only be developed with the support of the public. Communities affected by shale gas developments should share in the benefits.
Tina Rothery from Resident’s Action of Fylde Fracking said: “This report is full of warnings and yet concludes we should proceed. We would conclude that the warnings should be addressed before any further development takes place.
“The unconventional gas industry appears to have a great deal of involvement in its own regulation and that is a recipe for disaster.”
Tony Bosworth from Friends of the Earth said: “MPs say clearly that shale gas production may threaten our climate targets, may not stop the price of gas from soaring further and we can’t rely on it to improve energy security.
“Instead of gambling with shale gas we should be building an affordable power system based on clean energy.”
Cuadrilla delighted with MPs’ conclusions on gas
Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said: “I’m delighted with the committee’s central conclusion that exploration companies like Cuadrilla should receive strong support from the Government to get on and drill, in order to establish the extent of the recoverable resources of natural gas.
We agree with the committee’s conclusion that substantial recoverable shale gas could limit future UK energy price rises, reduce our reliance on imported gas and generate considerable tax revenues.
Cuadrilla supports the committee’s view that positive community engagement will be crucial.
“We are committed to listening and responding to peoples’ questions, while ensuring their communities share in the benefits.”