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Thursday, 13 December 2012 (3033563)
Government gives the green light for fracking
by David Simister

THE Governemnt has given permission for shale gas activities at sites across Lancashire - including one in Banks - to be resumed.

Energy firm Cuadrilla stopped its shale gas exploration activities at the West Lancashire site after tremors in the Fylde area were linked to a sister site there, but the Department for Energy and Climate Change has given the go-ahead for the process, commonly known as ‘fracking' to be resumed, albeit with tighter regulations in place.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey pointed out the possible economic benefits, and said: “We are still in the very early stages of shale gas exploration in the UK and it is likely to develop slowly.

”It is essential that its development should not come at the expense of local communities or the environment. Fracking must be safe and the public must be confident that it is safe.“

Environmental groups have expressed their concerns at the announcement, and said that residents living near to the site are concerned about the risks of pollution associated with shale gas drilling.

Laurence Rankin from Southport Friends of the Earth said: ”It is worrying that the Government is pushing ahead with fracking despite the many risks to our local environment and communities.

“Residents across Lancashire are extremely concerned about the risks of water and air pollution, and the impact widespread shale gas fracking could have on jobs in farming and tourism.

”We want clean renewable energy not dirty fossil fuels.“

Fracking involves pumping water and chemicals beneath the ground to fracture a level of shale beneath the surface, in a bid to extract gas trapped underneath. Cuadrilla, the company behind the fracking sites in Banks and in Fylde, estimates there is 200 trillion cubic feet of gas trapped beneath Lancashire, and has said its operations in the region could create thousands of jobs.

The company welcomed the announcement, and said it was happy to work in accordance with all safety regulations.

Francis Egan, the company's chief executive, said: ”Today’s news is a turning point for the country’s energy future. Shale gas has the potential to create jobs, generate tax revenues, reduce our reliance on imported gas, and improve our balance of payments.

“Our exploration has shown that under Lancashire there is a belt of gas-filled shale over one mile thick. Today’s decision will allow continued exploration and testing of the UK’s very significant shale resources in a way that fulfils the highest environmental and community standards.”

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