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50 British Scientists Call On Government To Fast-Track Shale Development

Terry Macalister, Damian Carrington and Patrick Wintour, The Guardian

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.

[The letter] says: “As geoscientists and petroleum engineers from Britain’s leading academic institutions, we call on all political and decision-makers at all levels to put aside their political differences and focus on the undeniable economic, environmental and national security benefits on offer to the UK from the responsible development of natural gas from Lancashire’s shale.”

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