In December 2012, George Osborne stated that ‘the government expects that gas will continue to play a major role in our electricity mix over the coming decades’. It was a message that was compounded with the Chancellor’s support of shale gas in yesterday’s Budget 2013.
‘Shale gas is part of the future and we will make it happen”
Those who support shale gas production in the UK say that it is an inexpensive source of energy that reduces the country’s reliance on imports.
Osborn promised generous allowances for shale gas extraction, and implied that any communities affected by this disruptive mining method would be compensated.
Fracking fears for many
And those opposed to the extraction method believe communities will indeed be affected. Often referred to as “fracking”, the shale gas extraction process involves creating small explosions underground, and then injecting chemicals into the ground to release gas.
Fracking was blamed for causing a small earthquake in Blackpool in 2011. Extraction halted with many demanding regular seismic checks.
Aside from the danger, environment groups also call the process dirty and unstable, and decry its ability to help households struggling to pay energy bills. In its official response to the Budget 2013, Greenpeace stated:
“The Chancellor is slashing public services with one hand while gifting tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry with the other.
“This is unfair on struggling households, especially when everyone from the energy regulator Ofgem to BP to the Energy Secretary say UK fracking won’t bring down bills.”