Ed Davey Makes Environmental Case For Shale Gas Exploration
Carbon emissions from exploiting Britain’s shale gas reserves will be “significantly less” than those for coal and also lower than for imported liquefied natural gas, according to a government study.
The report’s findings were unveiled by Ed Davey, energy secretary, in a speech on Monday that laid out the case for shale gas exploration in the UK. Mr Davey said that as the cleanest fossil fuel, it was a “bridge in our transition to a green future”.
Shale gas has become a hot topic after a summer of protests in the Sussex village of Balcombe over plans by Cuadrilla – the only company to have fracked for shale gas in the UK – to drill there.
David Cameron, prime minister, has come out strongly in favour of shale, saying the UK has the potential to replicate the unconventional gas boom in the US. He says the north of England alone has enough shale gas to supply the UK for 51 years, and that exploiting it could drive down energy bills.
But shale – and particularly the shale extraction technique known as fracking – has stirred fierce environmental opposition.
Critics say it can contaminate groundwater and cause earthquakes – claims dismissed by the oil industry. They also argue that drilling for shale can exacerbate global warming by triggering fugitive emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Mr Davey tried to inject some balance into what is becoming an increasingly polarised debate. He insisted UK shale gas could be developed “sensibly and safely” with the right regulation, and insisted it would not prevent the UK meeting its climate targets.