MPs say ‘shale’ gas drilling should not be banned

Cuadrilla Gas site near Singleton.

Cuadrilla Gas site near Singleton.

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CONTROVERSIAL “shale” gas drilling should not be banned on the Fylde coast, MPs indicated today.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee said they found no evidence that the process for extracting shale gas - by fracturing the ground using high-pressure water, or “fracking” - posed any risk to water supplies from underground aquifers.

The new source of gas in the UK could improve this country’s energy security, the MPs said, but warned it could also steer investment away from lower carbon energy sources such as renewables.

In the US, where shale gas is already being exploited on a large scale, concerns have been raised the drilling process involves chemicals which can pollute water supplies.

And there are claims that the gas itself can pollute drinking water, with footage of people able to set fire to the water coming out of their taps.

But the MPs said provided the drilling wells are constructed properly there should not be a problem in the UK and that a moratorium was not “justified or necessary” at the moment.

They said regulators must be vigilant and monitor drilling closely to ensure there is no water or air pollution from the extraction, and have powers to stop the venting or flaring of gases such as methane which can come out of the wells.

Cuadrilla is currently drilling for shale gas at Preese Hall, Weeton, while potential sites in Westby and Singleton have also been identified.