PM ‘excited’ over shale gas bonanza

Drilling starts at the Balcombe fracking site in West Sussex last week, as Cuadrilla started testing equipment ahead of exploratory oil drilling in the English countryside (below) David Cameron.

Drilling starts at the Balcombe fracking site in West Sussex last week, as Cuadrilla started testing equipment ahead of exploratory oil drilling in the English countryside (below) David Cameron.

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More needs to be done to promote the benefits of fracking but it should only be carried out if there is “no risk” to the environment, a spokesman for David Cameron indicated.

The Prime Minister believes that shale gas offers “exciting” potential for energy security, jobs and growth and the Government needs to do more to promote the benefits.

Prime Minister David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron

The comments came amid increasing signs of unease among MPs about the method of extracting gas for energy from shale deposits deep beneath the ground.

It also comes after Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Mr Ollerenshaw warned the north would be left to absorb the potential environmental damage from fracking while the south reaped the financial rewards after Lord Howell said fracking should be carried out in the “desolate” north.

Energy company Cuadrilla has sites across the Fylde coast including Westby, Singleton and near Weeton.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman gave Mr Cameron’s backing to comments by Energy Minister Michael Fallon, who suggested large areas of the affluent south east could be sitting on valuable shale reserves.

In reported comments from a private meeting, Mr Fallon appeared to relish the idea of fracking taking place beneath the homes of “chattering class” commentators in The Weald.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “Shale gas represents an exciting new potential resource for Britain which could contribute to our energy security, our growth and jobs.

“But obviously it is important that where shale gas exploration takes place it poses no risk to the environment.”

The spokesman stressed the importance of local involvement in the planning process and highlighted the obligations placed on firms carrying out fracking to offer £100,000 of benefits to communities for each well fracked during the exploration phase.

“The Prime Minister’s view is that shale gas exploration does represent an exciting new potential resource for Britain and it’s important for Government to communicate that to people so people can see what the benefits of shale gas exploration could be,” he said.

“He feels that we need to continue to communicate that message to people.”

What MP Eric Ollerenshaw said...

What Lord Howell was trying to say just reinforces, if you like, a northern prejudice that southerners haven’t got a clue what the North West is like, or indeed the North East.

“It does look as if the rest of the country wants to use Lancashire as its energy base.

“There’s a particular environmental concern about the use of water and the impact on the water table... but long term what is going to be the benefit to the area where this is going to happen?

“We do not want that the north gets the dirty end and the south sucks up all the energy.”

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