An environmental group which has a large influence in the UK has said it is open to the idea of fracking, giving the government a surprise boost in its bid to extract shale gas for energy production.
Fracking has faced widescale opposition from environmental and health campaigners despite the fact it is very much favoured by Westminster. Opposition is largely due to fears over potential tremors and concerns over cancer risks.
However, the Telegraph reports Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) as saying it is ready to back the extraction method.
Easy solutions non-existent
The organisation said that an easy solution does not exist when dealing with the UK’s energy crisis, and that this means more controversial methods must be considered in order to make up the shortfall created when coal-fired stations are decommissioned.
Therefore, moving forward the organisation has called for calm and reasoned debate that will bring about a result that will help the country. This would include better engagement with communities, who are often the first to resolutely oppose fracking in their area.
It added that shale gas and fracking has been assessed as one of the “least worst” options available at the moment. This is because there is a relatively low carbon dioxide emission level related to fracking.
Shaun Spiers, chief executive of CPRE, explained that while the group was not committing itself to an out and out yes, it was prepared to listen and be convinced of the benefits of fracking.
“Although we have serious concerns about the impact fracking could have on our countryside and rural communities, we are open to a debate,” he said.
“If fracking is to go ahead, we need much more information and engagement with government and industry to develop a robust planning system that listens to communities and critically assesses the appropriateness of each proposed location.”
Boost to government plans
No doubt the government will take this news as a serious boost to its chances of being able to introduce its preferred method of fracking – CPRE has opposed many of its proposals in recent years, and winning over this group would mark the overcoming of a substantial hurdle.
It also marks the first cracks in the previous unbreachable armour of the conservation groups which have opposed fracking point blank, and could be a marker for further changes moving forward with more coming on board.
The government recently had other good news on this front, when Public Health England reported earlier this month that the risk of health worries being exacerbated by fracking are extremely low as long as the extraction itself is well managed.