David Cameron has said that banning fracking in the UK would be “a big mistake”.
Despite concerns over the environmental impact of shale gas extraction, the prime minister said the UK could be “missing out big time” if it didn’t capitalise on its estimated vast resources.
“If you look at what’s happening in America with the advent of shale gas and fracking, their energy costs in business and their gas prices are half the level of ours”, Cameron said.
“Nothing is going to happen in this country unless it’s environmentally safe. There is no question of having earthquakes and fire coming out of taps and all the rest of it. There will be very clear environmental procedures and certificates you will have to get before you can frack.”
Cameron was speaking to factory workers in Darwen, Lancashire, when he was asked about the merits of fracking.
There are many concerns over the environmental impact of the controversial process, including suggestions that it could contaminate local water supplies and cause Earth tremors.
Speaking about ongoing protests at a site in Balcombe, Sussex, where fracking firm Cuadrilla has begun ‘exploratory’ drilling for shale gas, Friends of the Earth campaigner Brenda Pollack said, “People are right to be concerned about fracking. It threatens their environment and quality of life and will mean more climate changing emissions are pumped into the atmosphere. And there’s plenty of evidence that it won’t lead to cheaper fuel bills.”
Cameron also claimed that parts of the country that allowed fracking would see £1m ploughed into the local economy, in what Downing Street has since called “a slip of the tongue”. The amount that energy firms have agreed to pay is actually £100,000.
BusinessGreen editor James Murray called on the prime minister to “show [his] working” with regards to fracking, in an open letter published on Friday.