Fracking should be national priority, say Lords
An influential committee of Peers has criticised the slow pace of progress towards the development of a shale gas industry in the UK.
The coalition government has committed to going “all out for shale”, believing that the resource can support the UK’s low-carbon transition while delivering significant economic benefits. A series of fiscal and regulatory measures related to the sector have been announced over the past year, which have sought to incentivise shale gas exploration.
In a report, published on 8 May, the Lords economic affairs select committee said that the UK was “exceptionally fortunate” to possess substantial onshore oil and gas resources, and that exploration and appraisal was needed in order to assess their economic potential.
But the committee said it was disappointed that the exploratory drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) needed for shale gas development had hardly begun. It found that, since the lifting of the government’s moratorium on fracking in 2012, the Environment Agency had not received a single application for the permits necessary for exploratory drilling.
The report said that creating a shale gas industry would allow the UK to reduce its energy imports, and that this would be especially valuable in light of the continuing fall in output from the North Sea.
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