Cuadrilla PR man admits George Osborne's shale gas revolution won’t cut energy bills

Plan to drive down prices will have 'basically insignificant' impact

A A A

George Osborne's plan to drive down energy prices through a shale gas revolution was dealt a blow when Britain's sole active shale gas producer said that even a boom would have a “basically insignificant” impact on prices.

At a meeting for concerned residents at a potential fracking site in West Sussex, a Cuadrilla representative was asked to comment on whether shale gas could drive down customers' energy bills.

“We've done an analysis and it's a very small…at the most it's a very small percentage…basically insignificant,” said Mark Linder, a public relations executive at Bell Pottinger who is also responsible for Cuadrilla's corporate development.

His comments, made to Greenpeace at the meeting, contradict Cuadrilla's public statements which hold out the prospect of notable energy bill reductions, without promising them.

Giving evidence in Parliament in 2011, Cuadrilla said that shale “has the potential to lower natural gas prices (tending to reduce electricity prices”. The company's website also says shale has “the potential..to lower gas prices”.

Meanwhile, the research that Mr Linder said demonstrated shale's negligible impact on price, is presented quite differently in Cuadrilla's press release on its findings.

The report, by the Poyry consultancy, estimates that if shale gas production booms in the 2020s it will cut gas and electricity prices by between 2 and 4 per cent.

“According to Poyry, Lancashire shale gas production could also reduce the country's wholesale gas and electricity prices by as much as 4 per cent between 2014 and 2035, which corresponds to an average saving of £810m/year,” said the release by Cuadrilla, which is chaired by former BP chief executive Lord Browne.

Mr Linder's blunt assertions also contradict statements made by the chancellor and the prime minister earlier this year.

Mr Osborne said “I want Britain to tap into new sources of low-cost energy such as shale gas”.

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron has said: “We should take part in fracking because this might be a revolution and if we ignored it completely we could be giving our economy much higher energy prices than would otherwise be necessary.”

A Company spokesman said: “Cuadrilla's never said it [shale] will bring down prices…We don't think it will bring down prices, although it does have the potential to.”

“Security of supply is the issue. We import a large part of the gas we use at the moment. It's also about tax revenue, we will make a massive contribution there,” he added.

Shale gas is produced using the highly controversial practice of fracking, which releases the hydrocarbon by blasting a mixture of sand, chemicals and water into the rock. The practice produces methane and has been linked to water pollution. It was temporarily banned in the UK after the country's first fracking activity - carried out by Cuadrilla near Blackpool - was found to have caused two notable earthquakes.

However, the government has decided to allow fracking to resume, provided that it is done under close supervision, and the chancellor has placed shale gas at the heart of Britain's energy strategy.

Mr Linder, whose comments were first reported by Private Eye, also gave an assessment of the various threats linked to fracking in his conversation with Greenpeace.

“There are issues that are phantom issues, like the seismicity issue. It's got a lot of press, but it's not such a big deal. The methane emission thing gets a lot of press but when you're using modern capturing techniques it's not a big deal,” he said.

“Well integrity is a big issue…Do you design the wells so they're absolutely not going to have contamination? That's a reasonable issue to hammer on. Traffic is an issue. I was just up in Lancashire looking at different sites the other day…these little roads and you have to be sensible about it,” he added.

Mr Linder declined to comment.

Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

MS Dynamics NAV Developer

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A pioneering Re...

Marketing Campaign Manager, Stevenage

£34000 - £36000 per annum: Charter Selection: This market leading organisation...

Senior Insight Analyst - SAS

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Senior Analyst Vacancy - Urgent Requriem...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform