The Church of England has likened vocal opponents of fracking to scaremongers who spread misinformation about the MMR vaccine, leaving children at risk of a measles epidemic. It also publicly accused opponents of shale gas exploration of ignoring the interests of the poor, who might benefit from cheaper energy bills and jobs.
And while strongly denying seeking to gain financially from fracking by reasserting centuries-old mineral rights, it refused to rule out the possibility of drilling on Church-owned land. In signs of a growing split within the Church over its approach to the controversial technique, senior officials also appeared to criticise one diocese that said fracking was a threat to “God’s glorious creation” as being not “sound scientifically”.
The row broke out as the Church issued its first official statement on the issue, setting out the arguments in favour of fracking. While insisting it had “no official policy” on whether or not it supported fracking, it criticised those who advocate “blanket opposition”.
It also warned against giving “cowboys and cavaliers” free rein to exploit the Earth’s natural resources but insisted that environmental risks could be minimised.
Fracking, which involves fracturing underground rocks to extract gas and oil, might be “less than ideal” in terms of cutting carbon dioxide emissions, it argued, but is still less harmful to the planet than burning coal.