Fracking should get public support, says David Cameron

Environmentalists protesting against fracking Opponents of fracking fear environmental damage

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The whole of the country must "get behind fracking", which ought to get "real public support" once its benefits are explained, David Cameron has said.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said he wanted all of the UK to benefit from shale gas drilling - "north or south".

The prime minister moved to allay concerns about the technique, insisting it was safe if properly regulated.

Environmentalists fear it can cause small earth tremors, water contamination and environmental damage.

Fracking - short for "hydraulic fracturing" - involves drilling deep underground and releasing a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals to crack rocks and release gas stored inside.

A protester waving an anti-fracking placard greeted by a line of police Protesters say the case for safe shale gas extraction has not been made
A police line at a protest in Balcombe There has been a heavy police presence at anti-fracking protests
Police and protestors clash in Balcombe, West Sussex. Police and demonstrators clashed in Balcombe, where exploratory drilling has taken place
Protesters trying to get to a Cuadrilla truck in Balcombe Officers have had to escort vehicles from drilling company Cuadrilla in Balcombe
A drilling rig in Balcombe A drilling rig erected in Balcombe
Anti-fracking protest in Wigan Protesters greeted the prime minister on a recent visit to Wigan

Supporters say it is safe and argue it is essential to make the UK more energy self-sufficient.

The PM said it could create thousands of jobs as well as reduced energy bills.

Last month, Tory peer Lord Howell of Guildford said fracking should be confined to "desolate" areas of northern England, for which he later apologised. He went on to acknowledge there were parts of both northern and southern England "less densely inhabited than others".

fracking graphic

The village of Balcombe, in West Sussex, has been a flashpoint in the debate, as protests spanning several days have been held against exploratory drilling in the area.

Mr Cameron wrote: "It's been suggested in recent weeks that we want fracking to be confined to certain parts of Britain. This is wrong.

"I want all parts of our nation to share in the benefits - north or south, Conservative or Labour. We are all in this together.

"If neighbourhoods can really see the benefits - and get proper reassurance about the environment - then I don't see why fracking shouldn't get real public support."

He said fracking had "real potential to drive energy bills down".

"It's simple - gas and electric bills can go down when our home grown energy supply goes up," he added.


Energy costs in the US have plummeted as a result of fracking.

Mr Cameron said the UK could not afford to miss out on a technology that would bring down bills, create up to 70,000 jobs and provide financial sweeteners to communities with drill rigs on their doorsteps.

Critics say scepticism is needed. The government's own energy department DECC says it's not clear whether fracking will bring down bills or not.

Some academics believe the jobs figures will be much lower.

And common sense suggests fracking is more likely in areas of the northern England where the population is lower than in the densely-populated Home Counties.

But campaigners disputed the prime minister's claims - calling on him to "come clean" about the role of lobbyists in advising the government.

"Experts from Ofgem to Deutsche Bank to drilling company Cuadrilla agree UK shale will not bring down bills because, unlike the US, the UK is part of a huge European gas market," said Greenpeace energy campaigner Leila Deen.

"We've seen that foisting fracking on communities - south or north - doesn't work, and his comments are likely to further stir rebellion in the Home Counties, not quell it."

Mr Cameron said a study of 11 counties alone had found about 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas "lying underneath Britain at the moment".

"To put that in context, even if we just extract a tenth of that figure, that's still the equivalent of 51 years' gas supply," he said.

And he insisted fracking could create more than 70,000 jobs.

"Just as with North Sea oil and gas, there could be a whole supply chain of new businesses, more investment and fresh expertise," he added.

'Real money'

The prime minster said energy firms had agreed to pay £100,000 "to every community situated near an exploratory well" and that, if shale gas was extracted, 1% of the revenue, "perhaps as much as £10m will go straight back to residents who live nearby".

"This is real money that could be used for a variety of purposes - from money off the council tax bill to investment in local schools," he said.

"It's important that local people share in the wealth generated by fracking."

Mr Cameron said the government "must make the case that fracking is safe".

"International evidence shows there is no reason why the process should cause contamination of water supplies or other environmental damage, if properly regulated," he added.

He pledged that "local people will not be cut out and ignored" and added: "We want people to get behind fracking, and a transparent planning process is an important ingredient."

And he insisted the countryside's "landscapes and scenery" would not damaged by drilling, adding: "The huge benefits of shale gas outweigh any very minor change to the landscape."

Last week, the prime minister told factory workers in Darwen, Lancashire, it would be a "big mistake" to miss out on the benefits of fracking, adding the country was "missing out big time at the moment".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 639.

    I wonder if any of the proposed Fracking plants would be in any of the cabinets back yards? Of course fraqcking will be great for the nation if it is not done anywhere near any of the senior politicians who promote it. Why don't you frack off Mr cameron and take your self-interested cronies with you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 638.

    593.Miss T Fied
    You didn't answer my previous. China and India are building 900 new coal power stations, we have 17 in operation. We could turn all our electricity off and have no impact on carbon emissions,so why should the population suffer in the name of a few green enviromentalists. Granted we need more renewable energy but it should be home generation not wind turbines which are ineffective

  • rate this

    Comment number 637.

    Good for Mr Cameron emphasising the excellent safety record for fracking and the need for proper procedure and regulation.

    Of course we need new nuclear ASAP and renewables but as long as we do need fossil fuels in makes sense to use those in our own country where possible.

    There is an oil well near where I live it causes so little disruption I doubt that most people even know where it is!

  • rate this

    Comment number 636.

    In vino veritas, Drunken Hobo (607).

    What's so amusing is that the two sides slinging mud at one another are precisely the types who rail against 'Punch & Judy' mud-slinging in the House of Commons!

    By the way, I'm not being hypocritical. I enjoy the game - but I yearn for more informed debate. I suspect I'll still be yearning long after shale gas becomes our staple source of energy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 635.

    Is Cameron going to set up a fund to recompense anyone whose property is damaged by Fracking? After all if it is as safe as he claims then the fund won't have to pay any money out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 634.

    It's been a few years since we had regular power cuts and people are thinking it can't happen. It's been a few years since the Liberals last had a taste of power, people seem to have forgotten how ghastly they were. Next of all they will start thinking England can't be invaded so we don't need an army. I like fracking, it's what we used to call progress before the world went bonkers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 633.

    Show me some fracked shale. Show me the poisonous effects wrought underground. Show me how much you will have turned to sludge down there. I assume you are going to use cheap seawater, as there is plenty of that, and not the pricey potable stuff we are often denied, due to drought. Has Cameroon even asked such basic questions, the ones that those who will live over the sites are asking?

  • rate this

    Comment number 632.

    It's not the possibility of tremors that's the issue - it's the huge amount of toxic waste this process generates - but that element is rarely discussed. Large parts of the country rely on under ground aquafiers. The risk of contamination is too high - everyone should waych Gas Land to see what actually happens during fracking, not what the big companies claim will happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 631.

    Look, the price of our household energy bills will NEVER lessen. Whilst under private ownership the cost will never be passed onto the consumer.

    Utilities are a joke in the country and the public see through all the rhetoric and lies....start treating your population with a modicum of respect and stop lining the fat cats pockets....

    We seriously need some sort of revolution in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 630.

    Perhaps a bit more transparency is required?

    Which members of the political class have vested interests in these companies (publication please)?

    Who is going to regulate these companies? The article quotes Cameron saying 'if regulated properly', I'm more interested in whether they will be regulated and by whom?

  • rate this

    Comment number 629.

    Cameron reads from an agenda written for him, so why bother trying to converse with the messenger, just take away his script and watch him fluff it. I wonder if the grounds of Buckingham palace have been surveyed of late. This land is not your own, you are tenants, and must know your place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 628.

    A few bribes might help.

    Not for me though davey boy.

    ROLL ON 2015

  • rate this

    Comment number 627.

    Fracking is a necessary evil until the Green community have a unified position. No Seven barrage because of wading birds? There won't be any birds unless we have alternative power soruces. No nuclear power because of spent fuel? Wind power is inconsistant, there's no non-carbon choice. Energy efficient light bulbs alone will not save us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 626.

    Re: 10. Ian Sankey "UKIP are the only party who promise to listen to the concerns of the people and will put an end to dangerous fracking, ugly wind farms, uneconomical nuclear and remove our reliance on foreign oil."

    How will UKIP create energy without fracking/oil/wind/nuclear/foreign oil? Will the UK be powered by Farage's hot air?

  • rate this

    Comment number 625.

    Agree with some comments already here. Fracking is another method of providing energy for us. It reduces the reliance on expensive imports for a period of years. The economy needs it The BBC programme about this in the US has been discredited it was the scaremongering by uninformed journalists seeking a sensational story.
    There are risks, but much less than nuclear power & deep sea oil extraction

  • rate this

    Comment number 624.

    Why would a company sell us the gas cheap when they can get more for it on the open market?

    You'd be daft to think you're bills are going to come down.

  • Comment number 623.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 622.

    If just 10% will supply the UK for 51 years, common sense says that these assets must be developed. What are the alternatives? Do you want a Wind farm at the bottom of your garden, or a Nuclear Power station, or would you rather have only 12 hours of electricity per day?
    Everybody wants the advantages of modern life, get used to the disadvantages!

  • rate this

    Comment number 621.

    Cheaper energy, less carbon emissions more jobs, independence from unstable Middle East regimes - and less environmental and aesthetic harm caused to the countryside than wind power. Who could be against it?

    Nimbys and Green leftwing misrablists that's who - but they will lose the argument on fracking just as they are losing the argument on global warming.

  • rate this

    Comment number 620.

    @574.JM "there is more to life than dollar signs"

    You are right. Unfortunately, for most people in our society, to get those things you have to pay dollars!

    You can go and live in an eco-friendly village, but actually you can only do that because of the technology & industry made available by everyone else living in towns.

    Show me how we can all be eco-friendly and we can forget fracking


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