Never mind fracking, there are other areas of shale gas exploration and production that could be more likely to raise eyebrows.
Dr Tina Hunter, Director of the Centre for International Minerals and Energy Law at the University of Queensland told ELN fracking is just “one millisecond of an eight-hour sleep” but is being used as a term for every side of development for shale gas.
She said: “I would actually be concerned about other things that are going on – things like transporting chemicals, impact on people’s lives of noise.
“I think fracking is one of the things we understand the most. We’ve had 70 years of experience in fracking and it’s developed really well. In fact, I’m more satisfied with fracking these days than I was 20 years ago when they were using diesel to frack wells. Now there’s a whole range of environmental controls and much better developments.”
Dr Hunter said that while the US already had the infrastructure in place when exploring for shale gas, Australia is developing its infrastructure and the UK will be “somewhere in between”.
She suggests what Britain could learn from the Australian shale gas industry is that “rapid is not necessarily the best” and there should be a “strong and robust legal framework in place” before starting the exploration process.
She said that although policy in the UK is “sound”, there needs to be a debate with the public about what should be going on. She suggests the community concerns need to be addressed by an independent body rather than companies or government, claiming both “seem to be polarising the community”.
Dr Hunter added: “I think the message from the Government that ‘this is going to happen. It’s going to happen now whether you like it or not’ is the wrong message. It’s treating the public like children which they’re not and it’s not giving them a say.
“If the Government was to engage with the community and say ‘this is what we’re going to do and we’re going to do this together’ that would really change it… I don’t think the policy needs changing but the way the message is delivered and implemented.”
Last month an EY report found an estimated £33 billion needs to be invested to bring UK shale wells into production between 2016 and 2032.