Fracking is not “the evil thing that some people try to make it out to be,” the UK energy secretary Ed Davey has claimed.
Davey, who was speaking on a live appearance on one of Radio 5 live’s Energy Day programmes, defended the controversial process of shale gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing. He said, “We are going to need gas over the next 20 or 30 years as we transition to low carbon. Gas is a part of the transition for sure and the question is where is that gas going to come from?
“Gas production from the North Sea is going down. We are importing more gas and quite a lot from the other side of the world.
“If we can have gas safely in this country that will mean jobs, tax revenue and greater energy security – so fracking is not the evil thing that some people try to make it out to be.”
In a speech on Tuesday, the Chancellor George Osborne also reiterated the government’s support for fracking, arguing that Britain could not afford to reject the controversial energy source.
He said, “If we turn our back as a country on sources of new energy, which countries like China and the United States are exploiting, then we are we are saying to British families: ‘You pay energy bills that are higher than those paid by families elsewhere.’
“We are saying to British companies: ‘You’ll face costs that are higher than those faced elsewhere.’ And we are saying to our country: ‘You’ll have fewer jobs and less investment and a higher cost of living.’ But I am not prepared to say that to the British people.
“Britain is not going to turn its back on the energy sources of the future.”
In July, Osborne unveiled a series of tax breaks for the fracking industry in order to make Britain the “leader of the shale gas revolution.”
Speaking on Osborne’s tax breaks, Jenny Banks, energy and climate change specialist at WWF-UK, argued that the government is ignoring the risks.
She said, “Ministers seem to have swallowed hook, line and sinker the industry claim that the worries people have about fracking are simply scaremongering, despite strong evidence to the contrary”,
Campaigners have raised many concerns over the possible consequences of fracking. The process has been linked to groundwater pollution and increased risk of earthquakes, and still damages the environment through carbon emissions.
On Wednesday, Lord Nicholas Stern, a leading economist, said in an interview with the Independent that PM’s claims over benefits of fracking on energy bills are “baseless economics”.