Go-Ahead For Fracking After Brussels Vows No Regulation

  • Date: 21/12/13
  • Michael Savage, The Times

David Cameron has called on European leaders to press ahead with fracking after seeing off the threat of new EU restrictions on the industry.

The Prime Minister had feared that Europe would fall farther behind the US in exploiting the energy source if the European Commission imposed new legal rules on the drilling.

He urged European companies to start fracking in earnest after EU officials confirmed that there would be no new legislation.

Mr Cameron had written to José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, warning him that new red tape would be a “major case for concern” because it could kill off investment and cause further delays.

Janez Potocnik, the European Environment Commissioner, had said that “robust” rules were needed on fracking to head off legal challenges under EU law. France and Bulgaria have already banned fracking, while there have been protests about drilling in Romania.

However, a spokesman for the European Commission said yesterday: “I can confirm that as part of our climate and energy 2030 package, the Commission will present firm guidance [on fracking]. However, as envisaged for a long time, the Commission will not propose draft legislation.”

Speaking in Brussels yesterday, Mr Cameron said that the Commission’s decision marked a “good result”.

“I was just very worried that while we are already behind on fracking and unconventional gas compared to America, we would fall even farther behind if we had more legal processes to go through, including EU processes,” he said.

“The figures comparing what happens in Europe with what happens in the US in terms of the number of wells that have been dug — it is something like 10,000 in the US and 100 in the EU, even though we probably have three quarters as much unconventional gas.”

Mr Cameron said he hoped that the growth of fracking, which involves gas being pumped out of rock using ­pressurised water and chemicals, would reduce energy bills and create 70,000 jobs in Britain.

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