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 719.

    Yes, Dave, I do realize that WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, but it's nice to be reminded again. With UK wages having falling further than in almost any other EU country, finally some good news. I would have liked the additional reassurance that fracking is THE RIGHT THING TO DO, but we'll let that one pass. Hope (in fact, trust) you and your friends have shares already secured. BR Turkey

  • rate this

    Comment number 718.

    Fracking is safe in the same way that nuclear power is safe (Fukushima), oil wells are safe (Deepwater Horizon), Mining is safe (Chilean mining accident). It's only when it goes wrong there is a problem. When so many problems with the existing shale mines are documented you'd have to be daft to want more. Cue David Cameron

  • rate this

    Comment number 717.

    So the ignorant "plebs" health is worth £100,000?

    Surprised not offering "magic beans" or coloured beads as a bribe?

    There is a wise saying that you cant put a price on your health? Obviously, you can though on other peoples?

    Cameron & Co are just trying to force this through to try & save their backsides before the next election because the "recovery" they promised has never materialised

  • rate this

    Comment number 716.

    To get the real opinions about fracking just look at the highest rated comments and ignore editors picks.
    People are beginning to wake up and understand what governments really do.They sell fracking as a "plan" so that their buddies can make lots of money.It is a short term, knee jerk reaction to power supplies. A well can only be fracked 18 times but it will take hundreds of years to depollute.

  • rate this

    Comment number 715.

    Drill baby drill.... We need to meet the energy demands folks..

  • Comment number 714.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.

    Hey UK MPs

    Try backing renewables and clean up the nation instead of lining your own pockets backing fossil fuels.

    Do any of you even care about anything other than your own well-being?

    Have any of you ever considered thinking past the next election and thought what the UK might be like in 30-50 years?

  • rate this

    Comment number 712.

    Cameron needs to give it a rest with this and other things. There's no way he'll change peoples' opinions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    What I don't understand is where they get the water to pump into these wells. I thought we were running out.

  • Comment number 710.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 709.

    Windturbine rely on a payment from the government of around 28p/Kw. This payment is collected from the consumer as the levy on all energy bills. Additionally, the windturbine owner receives 3p/Kw from the energy company. Therefore with the distribution cost from the energy company of around 6p the total cost per Kw to the consumer will be around £37p/Kw meaning a 3 fold increase in electric bills

  • rate this

    Comment number 708.

    Have a look at Cornell University's paper:-
    Impacts of Gas Drilling (ie fracking) on Human and Animal Health

    Of course the study is 'flawed' because those affected had to sign non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements so are not named. I found page 60 especially interesting

  • rate this

    Comment number 707.

    David Cameron tells us we have to "get behind fracking".

    Doesn't matter if the public is behind it or not, you'll go ahead with it anyway.

    Why even pretend that what the people of this the country wants actually matters?

    Greenest government ever? Utter lies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 706.

    Gas is a world commodity.It would be stupid to use it up charging ourselves less for it.There is no situation where fracked gas will lower prices. Nor should it.We do not want it thrown away at low cost to industry so they can export for a while only due to the fuel subsidy of us not getting the market price for it. The longer we do not touch it the more it will become worth to future generations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    The first part of your name sums you up you seem happy to use the Internet, how on earth do you think it works. Fairy dust or data centres, exchanges that use electricity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    There is one very simple problem with fracking that any primary school pupil could explain to you... it is still a method for extracting fossil fuel, whatever you believe about protecting the environment, the simple truth is THEY WILL RUN OUT. Even the gas and oil industry now realise this! There is absolutely no option other than to find new sources of energy, anything else is a waste of time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    Dear Mr Cameron, FRACK OFF....I am impressed on some of your idea's, but this is just complete and utter bull. 1% to local communities, Whoop de fracking do. Why not 10% of revenue if it's going to be THAT successful ? I suppose there is a CEO position or chairmanship in it for you at some fracking company when you step down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 702.

    You can read the arguments back and forth all day long. The TL:DR (too long didn't read) version is - There are people living in fracking areas who can set light to gas flowing from their mains water taps. Search for it on youtube.

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.

    Fracking is not a long term solution and considering the damage its done in the USA I can't believe Cameron thinks everyone should get behind it, ridiculous! Fracking poses serious risks to the health and safety of communities and the environment. When our water supplies have been contaminated and we find ourselves suffering from Earthquakes, it'll be too late and who will pay for that? Us!

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    As supposed to taking in what a bunch deluded fairy believers want you to believe?

    Comments like yours r no better than Camerons,u just try+enforce your views on people with fear.People like u and the protesters against stuff like this r no better than a brainwashed/brainwashing cult

    Protests used to have meaning, but nowadays they are just a bunch of hippies 'against the regime'


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