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Calls to make fracking ‘urgent priority’

A fracking rig

A fracking rig

Not enough is being done to promote fracking and shale gas should be made an “urgent national priority”, according to a group of Lords.

A report published today by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Select Committee claims the risks of drilling for shale gas are low if managed correctly.

It claims the potential jobs boost in the North West, including Lancashire, needs to be better promoted by energy firms and calls on the government to act on its pledge to go “all out for shale”.

Lord MacGregor, chairman of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, said: “A successful shale gas industry in the UK would be good for our economy and energy security. The United States has raced ahead with the development of shale gas and oil in recent years, with enormous benefits to US industry and the economy generally.

“The Committee strongly supports the Government’s decision to go ‘all out for shale’. But here in the UK was have not yet left the starting gate. Developing a successful shale gas and oil industry in the UK must be an urgent national priority.

“We have particularly examined environmental and other concerns about the impact of fracking. We have concluded that legitimate concerns can be addressed through appropriate regulations. The UK regulatory framework is well regarded internationally but we suggest some improvements, for example that well inspectors should be independent and not employed by the drilling company.”

The report has been welcomed by supporters of fracking – the process of injecting liquid into the ground at high pressure to release gas trapped in the rock – but environmental campaigners accused its authors of “cherry-picking” evidence to be included.

Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “Fracking is a non-solution – it won’t deliver for many years, if ever. The real urgent national priority is to push ahead with the renewable technology and efficiency measures which would much more rapidly address the security issues flagged up by the Ukraine crisis.

“The Lords spent seven months cherry-picking the wafer-thin evidence that fits a foregone conclusion about the benefits of shale gas. This is just more taxpayer-funded cheerleading from unelected politicians who seem all too happy to ignore the country’s legitimate concerns about fracking.”

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