The UK Government has appointed former MP Natascha Engel as the new independent Commissioner for Shale Gas.
She will be a direct communication link between the shale gas industry, local communities and the regulators, providing “impartial, fact-based information”.
Ms Engel, who who took up her post this week, will be the point of contact for residents, to listen to their concerns, have their questions answered and help improve communication with regulators and industry.
It is, however, not a regulatory role and she has no powers of enforcement or investigation.
The appointment comes as the government previously announced the set up of a Shale Environmental Regulator Group, which will being the regulators – Oil and Gas Authority, Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency – together as a virtual body.
The former MP for North East Derbyshire from 2005 to 2017 said: “If extracted safely, shale gas has the potential to be a new, domestic source of energy for the UK. But there is a need for clear, impartial information to be provided to all parties and in particular those local communities most affected by shale gas development.
“As the Commissioner for Shale Gas, I look forward to working closely with communities, regulators and industry to ensure facts are easily accessible as the process of shale exploration continues to develop.”
Cuadrilla expects to start fracking at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire over the coming week after the government gave the green light last month.