UK Environment Agency gives OK to fracking ‘if safe’

Posted at May 9, 2012 » By : » Categories : News » Comments Off on UK Environment Agency gives OK to fracking ‘if safe’

Environment Agency chair Lord Chris Smith gave a cautious ‘OK’ to fracking in the UK so long as it is done safely and with carbon capture and storage.

In a speech at the Society of Arts (RSA) yesterday evening, Lord Smith was supportive of nuclear power, as well as hydraulic fracturing to extract shale gas, which he said could be a “useful addition” to the UK’s energy portfolio.

He did highlight the possible unknown environmental impacts but said he was confident that the industry could overcome current concerns around the triggering of earth tremors and potential contamination of groundwater sources.

Lord Smith added that despite the potential of shale gas to fill the energy gap left by the shutdown of ageing coal and nuclear power stations, the UK should not rely on gas generation without carbon capture and storage (CCS).

But environmental group Friends of the Earth contend that the risks are too great to proceed with extracting shale gas, of which the UK appears to have significant deposits.

“Until it’s proven to be safe, this technology should be shelved in the UK as it has been elsewhere in the world,” says campaigner Tony Bosworth.

“We know 85% of people want to see more clean British energy, not gas – Ministers should focus on this instead of backing technologies which are unproven or, like nuclear, are consistently late and reliant on vast public subsidies,” he adds.

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Related stories:
UK government calls for input into gas generation strategy (3-May)
UK looks set to move ahead with shale gas fracking (17-Apr)
UK shale gas deposits twice as large as thought, says IGas (4-Apr)
UK Chancellor’s 2012 Budget boosts fossil fuels (22-Mar)

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