Speaking at a Local Government Association Conference in Warwick, environment secretary Owen Paterson called for the country to implement fracking in the same way as the USA.
He said “We have got to look at the example of the United States, where the absolutely spectacular reduction in energy (costs) has brought back whole industries which are now no longer competitive in China.”
Opponents to fracking are ‘scaremongering’
Patterson also spoke about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, which he said had been “massively, massively exaggerated”.
During his speech he told attendees: “We have been doing this for a long time, extracting oil from the earth. We know how to make wells which don’t leak.
“I think there is an awful amount of scaremongering on this, which is unfortunate.
“We do have to wake up to the fact the world is an unstable place and we are much, much better having home-grown energy.”
‘Development of fracking will divert effort ‘from green energy generation
Molly Scott Cato, green economist and member of the Green Party, disagreed with Patterson and called fracking a “huge risk” for the British environment.
She said: “It is extraordinary that the so-called Environment Secretary can ignore scientific advice that indicates clearly the global threat from climate change in advocating support for fracking.
“It is clear that the development of fracking will divert effort and investment from the urgent need to undergo a rapid transition to renewable sources of energy.”
No guarantee of lower bills
Patterson’s comments follow a recent interview with Lord Nicolas Stern, in which the respected economist dismissed claims that fracking would significantly lower household bills.
Lord Stein suggested that the integrated European energy market which Britain operates within, means even a huge increase in local gas production would only subtly affect prices.
In contrast, the USA operates within an isolated market meaning higher local production can more easily translate into lower energy bills.