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 679.

    By the way, please stop the accusations against DC, unless you can prove it (which you probably can't) then your comments about him taking "kick backs" and the sort are all libel - the mods should really clear up the board on all this defamation."
    How I agree with you. Posts making criminal allegations should be removed as should any that are simply sneering or pointlessly nasty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 678.

    Setting aside Fracking , we are running out of our own natural gas , coal is not carbon efficient , wind and solar is extremely expensive and inefficient and comes nowhere near our needs , nuclear is mired and will be for a long time , so we are left with importing gas . Energy prices will rise and by a lot and we will be dependent probably on Norway and Russia. One I trust , the other ... hmm .

  • rate this

    Comment number 677.

    Fracking has caused gas prices in the US to plummet. If the same thing happened over here millions of people would benefit from cheaper heating bills and the death toll of elderly people in Winter would fall. But Nimbys would rather we had insufficient power and freezing houses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 676.

    Onething those who opposes freckling always forget. ENERGY NEVER COMES FREE. I want to know how many of those who oppose fossil fuel is not using car / heating. Human became addicted to energy and we need it at any cost. The only way we can save our planet earth is to going back to forest and live as nomads, then there wont be any energy problems. At least allow this until we get greener energy.

  • Comment number 675.

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

  • Comment number 674.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 673.

    North Sea oil&gas revenues did not give us cheaper bills neither will fracking, we no longer control the utility companies they can charge what they want.The revenues taken by Government will no doubt be invested in and around Greater London as per usual.

  • rate this

    Comment number 672.

    We need cheap power and the is is the answer. It is real. It is not fantasy "renewable".

    And please stop refering to it as "controversial". Not having power in your offices and homes in the dead of winter, now thats controversial.

  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    or it coud be left for future generations?

  • rate this

    Comment number 670.

    Go away tree huggers, come into the 21st century. All your silly little protests will be forgotten when you are gone so whats the point!

  • rate this

    Comment number 669.

    "Agree with some comments already here. Fracking is another method of providing energy for us."

    Forever ignorant and terminally Tory!

    The evidence against fracking is mounting daily, use your mind for once. The people telling you it is safe are not your betters and masters, and do not have your interests at heart!

  • rate this

    Comment number 668.

    Camerons view is perverted, biased towards shale gas industrys biased assement of shale resources.

    The same formations surround this island, under the sea.

    £billions have been invested to enable N sea oil/gas, no reason why same cannot be done with offshore shale, hence I am distrustful of the shale industry, & of advisors to Cameron & also of Camerons own illogical biased reasoning

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    This intiative isn't being pushed through to help the British public, this is to help foreign energy companies sell our resources to everyone else. Just like every other Tory policy; lobbyists and business interests go before the tax payer. The only thing that bothers me more than the Tories not seeing how transparent they are is they fact that there are still people stupid enough to vote for them

  • rate this

    Comment number 666.

    At the moment Britain is too reliant on foreign gas supplies for electricity generations. Renewables are a nice idea but just don't produce enough energy to solve the problem. Nuclear is far too dangerous.

    So if you don't want fracking, how would you keep the lights on?

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    "Fracking should get public support, says David Cameron"

    What a stupid man! FIRST you need to ensure it's safe which you haven't.

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA) say 2.3% to 7.7% of gas escapes during recovery.

    This is equivalent to 18 Bn to 60 Bn tonnes of CO2, up to 120 times the UK's current annual carbon production.

    Is CamCon saying the USA administration is lying?

  • rate this

    Comment number 664.

    People are against it because there's a culture of envy in this country, people don't like to think that somewhere, someone might make a bit of money for themselves, the fact is if businesses do make BIG PROFITS it will be TAXED, also many jobs will be created, again more incomes to TAX, less unemployment benefits to pay, indirectly everyone will benefit regardless of weather energy prices drop

  • rate this

    Comment number 663.

    £100,000 is an absolute pittance in exchange for the disruption caused by exploratory drilling. Financial sweeteners to communities affected by fracking is merely another way to say bribe.

    Energy bills in the US haven't come down and, just as with North Sea Oil and Gas, any revenues generated will be wasted on the rich

  • rate this

    Comment number 662.

    If Fracking is going to be so profitable why do fracking companies ALSO need to have tax incentives (paid for by the UK taxpayer).

    Little risk and massive profits? A bit like all the utilities they sold off - massive profits & every time an improvements needed the consumer pays so profits remain high

    Cameron - you can have fracking if all cabinet members & families agree to only drink that water

  • rate this

    Comment number 661.

    This is what happens when too many NIMBYs complain about renewables. The fact is that Fracking has to happen, but we need to use renewables, and in the longer term more nuclear.

    Hysterics are subsiding as facts are coming in. Interestingly, there's a formal sizeable group of Environemantalists for Nuclear Power. For it's the only one which doesn't create greenhouse gases.

  • rate this

    Comment number 660.

    Fracking gives us the opportunity to have secure energy and not be dependant on Russia and the Mid East . We can use this time to build more nuclear power and more sustainable energy.
    Don't listen to the Greens who are anti everything except wind turbines and would have us living back in the Stone Age.


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