The Environment Agency Chairman has given support for the controversial ‘fracking’ process if it abides by strict rules to protect the environment. Lord Smith is recommending shale gas as a future source in the UK’s energy mix as long as it adheres to “rigorous monitoring”.
The process of hydraulic fracturing involves pumping water and chemicals into shale rock at high pressure to extract gas. Critics say fracking involves environmental risks, such as earthquakes and water contamination.
Lord Chris Smith said: “Potentially, fracking ticks the box on energy security, on availability and on cost. But does it tick the box on environment? The answer is complex and is something like “up to a point”. But with careful use of the drilling technology, with rigorous monitoring and inspection and with the development of a major programme of Carbon Capture and Storage for gas-fired power generation, then shale gas could be a truly useful part of our energy mix in the years to come.”
Energy companies say fracking could lead to cheaper supplies of gas. The United States is currently enjoying a shale gas boom, with many of its supporters welcoming it as an indigenous supply which could also reduce international price volatility.