Fracking for shale gas in England – Transcript

Date: 23 October 2019

Our report on fracking for shale gas in England sets out the facts about government’s plans to support shale gas development.

Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking for short – is used to recover gas from shale rock more than 1 kilometre under the earth’s surface.

Government believes that shale gas could provide the UK with greater energy security and potentially create 64,500 jobs and £33 billion in investment.

But, the economic benefits are very uncertain, as government doesn’t know how much shale gas can be extracted in the UK.

So far, shale gas development has cost taxpayers at least £32.7 million. A large proportion of this has fallen to local authorities and local police forces.

Progress has been slower than government anticipated. In 2016, it expected up to 20 fracked wells by mid-2020, but only 3 have been fracked to date.

Government says this is due, in part, to low public acceptance, while operators point to the time it takes to gain permits and planning permissions, and the regulations in place to protect against earthquakes, which are stricter than in other countries.

Public concern has centred on the risks from greenhouse gas emissions, groundwater pollution and earthquakes caused by fracking. Government says it is confident it can manage these risks.

Operators are responsible for decommissioning shale gas wells at the end of their life. If an operator is unable to pay for this, Government has said that landowners may need to foot the bill.

However, our report finds that these arrangements are unclear and untested. Government couldn’t tell us what would happen if neither an operator or landowner could meet the costs.

To read the report, please visit our website.