Fracking has been vigorously promoted in Westminster by those with financial interests in the industry, such as Baron Browne of Madingley, chairman of Cuadrilla and senior government advisor. No surprise then, when we read today:
Ministers have “completely oversold” the potential of shale gas, energy experts say.
Researchers from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) told the BBC promises of lower prices and greater energy security from UK shale gas were “hype” and “lacking in evidence”.
UKERC, an academic consortium covering 30 institutions, has produced a report on the future of gas in the UK.
The Treasury said the potential of shale gas was “too big to ignore”.
The report authors said shale gas – a natural gas that can be drawn from rock through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking – was so early in its infancy it was impossible to know how much could be extracted and at what cost.
But they said it was most unlikely to make a substantial difference to prices or to the security of energy supplies in the UK.
Supporters say the fracking of shale gas could significantly contribute to the UK’s future energy needs, but critics say the process could lead to environmental problems.
“It is very frustrating to keep hearing that shale gas is going to solve our energy problems – there’s no evidence for that whatsoever… it’s hype”, Prof Jim Watson, UKERC research director, told BBC News.
“It’s extraordinary that ministers keep making these statements. They clearly want to create a narrative. But we are researchers – we deal in facts, not narratives. And at the moment there is no evidence on how shale gas will develop in the UK.
“Shale gas has been completely oversold. Where ministers got this rhetoric from I have absolutely no idea. [Baron Browne? Ed] It’s very misleading for the public.”