Fracking has been a divisive topic in recent times, with a former government science adviser stating that it would not have enough of a positive effect to warrant carrying it out, and Ukip dismissing opponents as “eco-freaks”.
However, the government has backed fracking, with many members of the Conservative party voicing their support. Amongst these is Energy and Climate Change Minister Ed Davey.
Fracking ‘could make a huge difference’
The latest MP to support the controversial process is Cabinet Minister Chris Grayling. The Conservative justice minister said it was the solution to high energy bills, and “the single biggest difference to the cost of living for UK consumers”.
Grayling was speaking on the first day of the Conservative conference, and his stance on fracking comes just days after Labour leader Ed Miliband promised to battle high bills and freeze energy prices should Labour come into power in 2015.
The party has been under pressure to respond to Labour’s price promise, with consumers continuing to worry about their bills, and Grayling said: “I think my answer to that would be the rapid acceleration of shale gas. That could make a huge difference.
“The sooner we accept it is a powerful source of energy for the future of this country that could see us through the next few decades, and get on with it, the better.”
Fracking still faces opposition
Despite the backing the government has given fracking, the process continues to face strong opposition.
A recent House of Commons inquiry found, for example, that there is no real evidence that the procedure would bring about a long-term benefit for the country.
It said it was too early to say if fracking and shale gas could have a significant effect on the cost of living, adding that it would be wrong to assume that prices would automatically come down as a result of adopting fracking on a large scale.
As well as backing shale gas extraction, however, Grayling was quick to use the conference to reaffirm support for renewable energy in the UK, despite criticism that it made it hard for companies to see the risks associated with investing in green energy in the UK.
Grayling said he personally supports subsidies for the renewables market, as well as believing that a range of different sources should be used, including both nuclear and wind power.
He added that the government may not allow for more investment in the sector for onshore wind farms, saying the coalition “permitted a certain amount” and it was uncertain if “we need any more of that”.