A group of 50 academics from some of the UK’s leading universities today call on politicians to fast-track a UK shale gas industry, the latest salvo in an increasingly polarised debate around fracking.
In a letter to the Guardian on Thursday, the scientists argue there are “undeniable economic, environmental and national security benefits” from shale being produced in the north-west of the country. The move comes just days after Sir Paul McCartney and 150 other celebrities called on the government to immediately halt all drilling operations on the grounds that they could damage the environment. New measures were included in the Queen’s speech to allow shale companies to drill more easily under people’s homes. The government, aware of the risk of a backbench rebellion and the threat of legal actions, stressed any proposals to reform the trespass laws were “entirely dependent on the outcome of a government consultation”.
Cameron assured MPs that the measures would not impact on anyone’s garden, with his officials saying any digging would take place at a minimum of 300m underground with compensation provided to local communities.
Tory whips are nervous that southern MPs will protest and the Liberal Democrats will flake off. The signatories of the Guardian letter which was organised by North West Energy Task Force, a business group funded by Centrica, the owner of British Gas, and Cuadrilla Resources chaired by former BP boss, Lord Browne.
Shale gas firms to get more power to drill under homes