Energy committee set for shale gas probe

The government’s Energy and Climate Change Committee will hold the first session of its Shale Gas inquiry tomorrow at the Palace of Westminster. The committee will target four key questions: […]

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By Kelvin Ross

The government’s Energy and Climate Change Committee will hold the first session of its Shale Gas inquiry tomorrow at the Palace of Westminster.

The committee will target four key questions: What are the implications of large discoveries of shale gas around the world for UK energy and climate change policy, including investment in renewables? What are the risks and hazards associated with drilling for shale gas? How does the carbon footprint of shale gas compare to other fossil fuels? And is there a case for calling a moratorium on shale gas exploration until the local-pollution and global-environmental impacts are better understood?

Giving evidence to committee chairman Tim Yeo will be Nigel Smith of the Geologist, British Geological Survey, Professor Richard Selley from Imperial College London, Jenny Banks, energy and climate change policy officer of the WWF, and Professor Kevin Anderson from the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre.

It was the Tyndall Centre that last month published a report claiming that extracting shale gas risks contaminating ground a surface water.

Professor Anderson argues that the government should halt shale gas drilling until more is known about the ecological implications of its extraction.

“The process by which we extract it leaves us with a whole range of concerns, particularly with contamination of ground and surface water,” he said.

The only drilling for shale gas in the UK is currently underway in Lancashire, where Cuadrilla Resources is working near Kirkham in a bid to extract gas from a vast bed of rock running from Clitheroe to Blackpool.

This morning the Energy and Climate Change Committee held its fourth evidence session of its Electricity Market Reform inquiry.

Among those giving evidence were Peter Atherton of Citigroup Global Markets, Shaun Mays from Climate Change Capital, Greenpeace chief scientist Doug Parr and Harry Huyton of the RSPB.