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.

Analysis

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
    +10

    Comment number 1099.

    Good old Dave must think we are all stupid
    If he thinks it will be safe and we ( the public voters do you remember us Dave) will get cheaper gas, it will all go to foreign non tax paying equity companies there for a fast buck.
    Dave are you that stupid or do you think we are that stupid.
    Nearly every one of your good ideas are a complete disaster.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1098.

    1080. Sarah
    How can this be an Editor's Pick? It's wrong on every issue.
    "A lot of untapped potential for much safer renewable energy in the UK. What? Where?
    "Fracking has too many environmental & other risks." None found so far.
    "Communities would not be properly recompensed." How can she know; the scheme's not been announced yet.
    "Investment in renewable energy would create jobs." In Germany?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1097.

    I think that there are quite a lot of people that would like to get behind cameron on this but Not for the reasons of giving him support.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 1096.

    First time I've been convinced by Dave that he is capable of talking sense. The NIMBYs need to realise that the economy is underpinned by hydrocarbon exploration and production and without it they would be shivering in their power-less houses. Or is it back to woad?

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 1095.

    Nature, via rotting vegetation, forest fires and volcanoes, produce vast amounts of Greenhouse gasses every second of the day.

    This is equalled by the amount of Hot Gas emitted by politicians and sandal wearing "save the planet" fruitcakes.

    I will happily send the BBC a picture of open-toe-sandals interacting with fruitcake(s), so everyone can learn how to identify them.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1094.

    What such a minister should be doing, is advising the electorate of the unsustainability of rising demand in tandem with diminishing resources.


    Not advocating the destruction of the planet, environment, water resources and the possible unimaginable consequences of artic methane release.


    Criminal.


    As we walk/rush blindly to our demise !!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1093.

    Does anyone know of an insurance company that covers damage by quake?
    Are there no UK companies interested in the UK`s resources?
    When a well is working are we really likely to see hundreds of people gainfully employed running it?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1092.

    1062 - Robin. There is plenty of evidence out there, that fracking causes people and animal ill health - you just have to look for it. Guess why? Because the fracking companies pay out settlements which include non-disclosure clauses.

    I'll help you get started - google "IMPACTS OF GAS DRILLING ON HUMAN AND ANIMAL HEALTH". It's a peer reviewed study by Cornell University

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1091.

    Sarah 1080.

    It is creating jobs.............for Danes and Norwegians.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1090.

    Coming to a tap near you soon !!! ****ed up water, and cheaper gas i think not.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 1089.

    do it my back garden if you like but stop talking Dave and get the fracking started

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1088.

    I still believe that sociopath/idiot testing should be introduced at Westminster.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1087.

    France has had the courage to ban this potentially dangerous activity but not the UK government because it is so in the pockets of big business.
    The argument that there is no real evidence it is a danger is not good enough. I want to see evidence that it is safe. And not evidence paid for by the energy companies who want to carry out this work.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1086.

    @1075.Come the Glorious Day

    "Moaning is a trait of the Left in general"

    No it's a trait of the right, hence why right wing pansies are always moaning about the BBC every time it tells the truth about the state of the economy. Truth hurts hey?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1085.

    Iet all the pro fracking posters live in the south where they know Cameron will not let fracking happen . We are all in it together unless you are rich and live south of watford.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1084.

    Where does " ... if properly regulated ..." come into it.

    The mere fact that Mr Cameron entertains that this new technology might not be is enough not to do it. Get the regulation right, thought out, in place first and then and only then think about doing it!

    Will government never learn?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1083.

    This just shows that the PM, His side kick and his side kick's father in law have some benefit from fracking, but only in the North!!!

    If they were to start fracking in Berkshire then I might believe that it's safe.

    It's a fracking shame we don't have an honest debate with the facts put in front of the people.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1082.

    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"

    Nigel Farage and UKIP are in favour of fracking - I've heard it straight from the horse's mouth - Farage stood in front of me and a room full of people and said so.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1081.

    At last a difficult decision made ignoring the 'Junker' theory and whether reformist governments can be re-elected - 3rd runway at Heathrow,nuclear power,EU membership. Security of energy supply is as important as defence of the realm. Reliance on the Middle East/Russia is a dangerous gamble on our future. Irrespective of who you vote for, if you don't like the decision don;t vote for them.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1080.

    The UK should invest in renewable energy not fracking. There is a lot of untapped potential for much safer renewable energy in the UK. Fracking has too many environmental and other risks. Communities would not be properly recompensed either- the fracking companies will only be interested in making a profit. Investment in renewable energy would create jobs.

 

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