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
    +1

    Comment number 1319.

    Hello. I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States. Pennsylvania is one of the more heavily fracked areas in the world.

    The poisoning of our water supplies due to fracking is just one of the consequences. (The lack of water, in places like Texas, make that even worse: you can read about that here: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/11/texas-tragedy-ample-oil-no-water )

  • Comment number 1318.

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

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1317.

    for people comparing this to the industrial revolution. We were the hegemonic power because we invented new technologies that allowed us to be quicker and more effecient. That won't happen by copying other countries.
    Nuclear Fusion is the furture and we should be investing in that along with Hydrogen fuel cells. While that is being developed nuclear fission must be used.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1316.

    1299. Schacht
    We have 4968 installed wind turbines that produce 10 gigawatts or about 5.3% of our capacity. Germany has 21,607 turbines which generate around 10.6% of her capacity
    _
    Speaks for their relationship with their Government, and the fact they have a bigger country. From my window I can see turbines and a nuke and there is no gas supply here or street lights
    HYS is about fracking, btw

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1315.

    1284. sannudayiki

    You make two great points about the differences between us in the US. Land, and accordingly fracking access, is much more expensive. And the intensive use of water will put further pressure on a lowering water table.

    Auswanderer - energy costs are escalating faster than inflation while green energy costs are coming down. It will be economically viable even ignoring oil subsidy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1314.

    1305. LucyJ
    4 MINUTES AGO
    Whereabouts in amrica are you?
    How near is the closest fracking operation to you?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1313.

    The North of England, Wales and Scotland bore the brunt of energy production for this nation for 100 years through coal mining and most recently North Sea Oil.
    Now it is the turn of the south and south east to share the responsibility and they bring out their retired solicitors and professional NIMBYs so they can keep the view from their back garden whilst the lights go out for the rest of us.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1312.

    If David Cameron really wants to reassure the public he should have the drilling done in his local neighborhood first.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1311.

    This is a classic example of:

    HUMAN BEINGS BACKED INTO A CORNER.

    The 1st of many !!!!!!!

    I dread to think how your grandchildren will react when a sip of water will turn them blue with green stripes !!!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1310.

    Why would a private company with a monopoly on fuel wish to give that fuel away at reduced prices?
    Why do people believe that the fuel will belong to the country?
    This is energy will be administered by a private entity!!!
    They will control it! and whomever they decide should have it and at what price and in what quantities!
    Not DC, Not the gov. of the day and not us!
    DC is lobbying us for them!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1309.

    @1303 Miss T Fied,
    Fancy forming a party?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1308.

    the day Cameron or Osborne have fracking in their back yard I might change my mind, both eco vandals waging war on our landscape. putting their greed mitts on the natural world while putting their jackboots on the throats of the poor and need typical tories i'd say!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1307.

    For years now as the leaders of this country have lived in the lala land.Where we time and time again hum and ah about benefits to this country.Meanwhile the rest of the world passes by.We need to break out from this tree hugging bureaucratic nightmare that is leading this country to ruin.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1306.

    1298. Who taught you British Constitution? We don't elect PM's or governments but MP's. The party & leader who can command a majority in the house gets to form the government. It will be the same next time around & could be a Lab/Lib Coalition. With all parties held in such poor esteem the turnout will be low and we will probably end up with a gov elected by a minority of voters...

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1305.

    Annie: perhaps the idiots who run this country (into the ground) may take note if someone from America tells them it's not a GOOD THING

    They are using eminent domain to take peoples' land
    so in many instances we simply don't have a choice

    Fracking corps in USA don't care who gets sick or dies as long as they make their money

    Our govt supports them over us

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 1304.

    To invest in renewable energies is the better solution. They are clean, they create jobs, they don't need much subsidies and they support a sustainable energy supply. That is what German and Danish politicians and NGOs have told the people. Now, 3 years later after the great Energiewende, Germany and Denmark have the highest energy prices in Europe, and the jobs have been created in China.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1303.

    To those who believed the rhetoric about the greenest government ever, who thought the Liberals could moderate the worst excesses of the Tories, who thought the Tories would never get it so wrong again - sorry, you've been duped

    DC has ensured the Tories a long spell in the desolate wastelands of the fracking nightmare that will become this overcrowded island.

    Bad News:- there's no one better.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1302.

    1288Notrocketscience1
    -
    @1273
    What a load of rubbish, if fracking is so toxic...just because a person finishes schooling doesn't mean they should turn off your brain and become gullible
    -
    Science tells us that tomato is a fruit, wisdom tells us don't use it in a fruit salad.

    Incidentally, gullible is not a real word, it's not actually in the Oxford English Dictionary

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1301.

    So the government expects us to listen to the benefits while they refuse to listen to, or even understand, the many serious drawbacks. The energy policies of this government are a complete mess.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1300.

    Dear cousins across the pond, could one of you please send me a bottle of fracking contaminated water as I think it would be fun to make our PM drink it.

 

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