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Fracking

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A ban on the controversial process of shale gas exploration known as fracking has been lifted by the Government.


Gas company Cuadrilla has been given the go-ahead to resume operations in Lancashire, which were halted in 2011 when test-drilling caused two minor earthquakes.  Despite the concerns of environmental groups, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said exploration could continue subject to regular seismic risk assessments.

The Energy Secretary said shale gas represented a promising new potential energy source but insisted the move would not undermine efforts to slash carbon emissions.

 

The controls include:
:: having a review before fracking begins to assess seismic risk and any faults;
:: the submission of a fracking plan to Energy Department setting out how the seismic risks will be addressed;
:: seismic monitoring before, during and after the procedure;
:: a new traffic light system to categorise seismic activity, with a trigger demanding work stops when a certain level is reached.

 

Fracking involves drilling holes deep into the ground and then using high-pressure liquid to fracture shale rocks to release gas trapped inside.

 

Cuadrilla believes it could supply a quarter of the UK's gas needs from the resource in Lancashire, leaving the country less reliant on foreign imports from Qatar or Russia.

 

It is the only company yet to apply for an exploratory drilling licence and its site near Blackpool is currently the only proposed shale gas operation.  The go-ahead for work to re-start came after the Treasury signalled its support for the budding industry, proposing tax relief for shale gas and unveiling a gas generation strategy.

 

Cuadrilla has previous claimed that fracking would be hugely beneficial to Britain, creating tens of thousands of jobs and raising significant tax revenues.  There have also been hopes it could lower energy prices, but the Government's own climate advisers have now warned a continued reliance on gas may push consumer bills even higher, compared to turning to low-carbon power.

 

Information adapted from Sky News website 13th December 2012

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