Exploration for shale gas in the UK has been given the thumbs up by the government after test drilling was suspended earlier this year.
Cuadrilla, a US firm, will resume drilling for shale gas in Lancashire via the technique known as ‘fracking’, months after its operation was halted following concerns that the practice caused minor earthquakes.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey announced that fracking would resume “subject to new controls to mitigate the risks of seismic activity”.
Davey said: “Shale gas represents a promising new potential energy resource for the UK. It could contribute significantly to our energy security, reducing our reliance on imported gas, as we move to a low carbon economy.
“My decision is based on the evidence. It comes after detailed study of the latest scientific research available and advice from leading experts in the field.”
Controversy surrounds the practice of fracking, which involves pumping large quantities of water – mixed with sand and various chemical compounds – into the ground to extract the gas and which then has to be treated afterwards.
Opinion is divided over whether shale gas will have the same impact on lowering energy prices in the UK compared with the US, where fracking activity is widespread.