Speaking to the Independent, Lord Nicolas Stern expressed his surprise over prime minister David Cameron’s claims that fracking could lower energy bills.
The economist stated that as gas is sold on an international market, it is unlikely that increased UK production would impact global pricing.
“I do think it’s a bit odd to say you know that it will bring the price of gas down. That doesn’t look like sound economics to me. It’s baseless economics,” he said.
‘Major questions’ surrounding potential impact of fracking in the UK
Lord Stern, who authored the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, added that more research needs to be carried out into the possible side-effects of fracking.
He singled out the technique’s alleged links to earthquakes and water contamination as key areas for consideration.
“There are major questions around fracking and those questions ought to be explored. We’ve not had a proper discussion on these serious issues,” he said.
Osborne sticks up for fracking
In stark contrast to Lord Stern’s views, chancellor George Osborne’s opening speech at yesterday’s Offshore Europe 2013 conference in Aberdeen, highlighted his commitment to extracting shale gas in Britain.
He also warned protestors that their actions would not affect plans to carry out fracking in the UK.
Britain can’t ignore ‘new sources of energy’
Speaking on the issue Osborne said: “If we turn our back on new sources of energy which countries like China and the US are exploiting, then we’re saying to British families: you pay energy bills higher than those paid by families elsewhere.
“We are also saying to British companies: you’ll face costs higher than companies elsewhere, and we’re saying to our country – we’ll have fewer jobs, less investment and higher costs of living. I’m not prepared to say that.”
Fracking remains controversial issue
Fracking, a process which involves the pumping of water and chemicals into underground shale rock deposits to release gas and oil reserves, has mobilised opinion in Britain.
Cuadrilla, an energy company looking to carry out exploratory drilling in West Sussex, has seen its operations delayed due to a number of high profile protests.