Get fracking sharpish, Lords tell government

The Government should “streamline” regulations which are holding up fracking in the UK says a new report penned by a group of Lords. They slate Government efforts to explain to […]

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By Vicky Ellis
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The Government should “streamline” regulations which are holding up fracking in the UK says a new report penned by a group of Lords.

They slate Government efforts to explain to the public why shale gas is worth getting out of the ground in Britain and making people “more aware of the risks if we don’t”.

Lord MacGregor, who chairs the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee told ELN fracking firms have “formidable” hoops to jump through.

He said any changes should focus on “streamlining [but] not weakening” rules.

Lord MacGregor told ELN: “The problem there is that there are so many agencies and local authorities and so on to get involved in any application.

“The time to be taken is formidable and that I think is actually putting off companies that potentially would go into the business.”

The Lords advise setting up a group of Cabinet ministers to clarify remarks from government on shale gas.

Since a ban on fracking was lifted in 2012, the Environment Agency hasn’t had a single application for fracking permits. One Lord on the committee said this was part of the problem and why they struggled to pin down concrete figures for potential benefits.

Touching on the latest fracking issue to grab headlines, the Lords also advise Government to press on with plans for hydraulic fracturing under land without owners’ permission.

A recent YouGov poll found nearly three-quarters of the public didn’t agree with this.

Lord MacGregor said he hoped the plans were in the Queen’s speech, adding fracking was more than 3km underground and unlikely to affect properties.

Could shale gas bring back big industry?

The committee was also concerned Britain could miss out on an energy source boosting other countries such as the US, which has been “repatriating” businesses lured by plentiful gas.

Lord Lipsey told a press briefing for the report: “We could end up not getting gas at an economic price and then using coal which is worst.”

Lord Hollick added shale gas could have a “dampening” effect on prices.

But while the Lords point to energy security and climate benefits – gas being lower carbon than coal – they avoid stating outright shale gas will mean cheaper gas.

Recent analysis by EY suggested shale gas could see of investment poured into UK production.