The response to this week’s announcement by the Prime Minister, giving the green light to shale gas developments in the UK, shows that fracking remains a controversial form of energy production.
In the announcement, Mr Cameron said councils will be able to keep 100 per cent of business rates collected from shale gas sites – double the current 50 per cent figure.
This could be worth up to £1.7 million a year for a typical site, with the industry confirming it will consult on how this money will be spent.
I can personally see huge potential for the ‘fracking’ of shale gas and the future energy supplies we could gain from its use. The difficulty comes of course with where shale gas production is allowed to take place.
Although we have a history of energy production in Dartford through the Littlebrook Power Station, it is unlikely that any application for a fracking licence would be met with open arms in Dartford.
Fracking has taken place on a limited scale in the UK for many decades. It has a very good safety record during that time. The use of shale gas is clean, it’s safe and in North America, where its use is widespread, customers’ gas bills have gone down. In terms of energy security, it provides extra diversity thus reducing our reliability on other forms of energy.
It is estimated shale gas could provide a huge boost to our economy. Investment could reach £3.7 billion a year and support 74,000 jobs in the oil, gas, construction, engineering and chemical sectors. The potential of fracking is clear but we have to ensure that concerns over its production are given respect. The location of shale gas sites should be determined primarily by local planning authorities who are best placed to understand local fears.
If we can obtain the right balance between environmental protection and opportunities for fracking, then this country could be about to see a huge boost for energy production.