Lords: Fracking should be 'urgent priority' for UK
- 8 May 2014
- From the section Business
Regulated fracking should be an "urgent national priority", an influential group of Lords has said.
Shale gas can bring "substantial benefits" to "the economy, to national energy security and to the environment", the Lords committee said.
Green campaigners have said that the Lords "cherry-picked" evidence for the report and have engaged in "taxpayer-funded cheerleading" for fracking.
The UK should focus on renewable energy instead of shale gas, campaigners said.
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee called on the UK government to speed up shale gas development in the country.
There are "substantial shale gas and oil resources" and "exploration and appraisal is urgently needed to establish their economic potential," the committee said.
The group of peers is "disappointed" that the exploratory drilling with hydraulic fracturing needed for shale gas development "has hardly begun".
The committee called for simplified regulation of shale oil and gas exploration "to encourage development of shale and reassure communities that risks of harm to the environment or human health are low".
The extensive use of fracking in the US has prompted environmental concerns.
Hydraulic fracturing of shale to extract gas involves pumping water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure to allow the gas to flow out to the head of the well.
There is a worry that chemicals used in fracking may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site.
Another environmental concern is that fracking uses huge amounts of water that must be transported to the fracking site, at significant environmental cost.
"We welcome the committee's conclusion that risks to health and the environment are low if shale development is properly regulated," Energy Minister Michael Fallon said. "We will consider the report's conclusions very carefully."
Green campaigners dismissed the Lords report and called for a greater emphasis on renewable energy.
Greenpeace said: "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."
The campaigning group, Friends of the Earth, commented: "Today's report recognises that the regulations aren't working - but calling for the Government to 'simplify' regulations and speed up the process will not reassure local communities and a public unconvinced by this risky technology."