The process of fracking to extract shale gas could have massive environmental consequences that will cause far more damage than good to the energy sector, according to Former Government Science Chief Sir David King.
King, who is due to take up a role as Foreign Secretary William Hague’s representative on climate change, added that shale gas would not have the same impact in the UK as it has in the US.
Gas ‘will have a minor role to play’
The former scientific adviser said that gas would only play a minor role in the future energy production in the UK.
King told the Guardian that gas would be used only as a backup to other sources in times where the demand for gas was high, and that this alone meant it was not worth the sizeable consequences that fracking would have on the environment.
He said nuclear and renewables will still be the main sources for electricity production during periods of normal demand.
“[Fracking] will not be a game-changer here as it has been in the US,” he said. “You will not be able to do that and there would be enormous environmental consequences.”
Fracking is backed by many senior government ministers
King’s opinions will no doubt cause some debate in parliament as they are in stark contrast to those held by many senior figures in the UK government, who say that fracking will provide the best way forward with regards to energy production.
His statements come after debates in Westminster led to Prime Minister David Cameron claiming the UK needs to move towards shale gas use rather than looking at renewables as the be all and end all of energy production.
Cameron said shale gas is the only realistic way to lower the bills of British consumers in the long run, with the start-up costs of exploiting renewable energy expected to increase what people need to pay.
Recently, Climate Change Minister Ed Davey similarly backed the use of shale gas, saying that fracking could “pave the way toward a green future” in the UK.
Davey said the carbon footprint from the use of shale gas would be far less significant than those generated by the use of either coal or liquefied natural gas (LNG).