Earlier this year, David Cameron insisted that shale gas is an important part of the country’s long term economic plan. On a visit to proposed sites in Lincolnshire he said the new industry could bring 74,000 jobs, £3bn of investment, cheaper household bills, and greater energy security for the future.
However, there are considerable concerns about the effects of fracking, with almost half of Britain’s countryside facing the possibility of shale oil extraction.
A report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee found that while UK shale gas production may help to secure energy supplies, it may not lead to cheaper energy bills.
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Campaign group Frack Off believe that the scale of unconventional gas development means that huge numbers of people will be threatened and that rural communities will be the first to be affected.
The fracking process allows firms to drill down into hard-to-reach resources of oil and gas, and in 2011 two minor earthquakes in the Blackpool area were linked to local fracking. Other concerns include water contamination and air pollution.
A report by six organisations including the National Trust and the RSPB says that fracking also has the potential to devastate wildlife habitats across the UK.
The British Geological Survey has found there are 4.4 billion barrels of shale oil hidden beneath vast parts of southern England, meaning the battle between the economy and the environment will be fought across most of the country.