Get fracking: MPs back the dash for UK’s shale gas

Go-ahead given as Ofgen report warns that risk of energy blackouts has  tripled in past year

Britain is to “get serious” and embark upon a dash for shale gas, ministers announced, as a new report warned that the risk of future energy blackouts had tripled in the past year.

Unveiling Britain’s energy strategy for the next decade, the Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, outlined new incentives for investors to replace Britain’s ageing coal, oil and nuclear power stations with new renewable and gas generators.

At the same time he gave the go-ahead for a new drive for shale gas exploration as a geological data released today suggested that British resources of the gas are much higher than previously thought. If only 10 per cent of the 1,300 trillion cubic feet that the British Geological Society (BGS) believe lies under the North of England could be extracted it would be enough to supply the country with gas for 25 years.

The pressing necessity for the new investment in power supplies was underlined by a new report from the energy regulator Ofgem. It warned the UK could have just 2 per cent of spare electricity generating capacity by 2016 and said its findings “illustrated the need for the timely implementation” of the new strategy.

“The risk to electricity supplies is projected to increase from the current near zero levels, although Ofgem does not consider disruption to supplies is imminent or likely, providing the industry manages the problem effectively,” it concluded.

The regulator said it has been working with the Department of Energy & Climate Change and the National Grid to explore options that would provide consumers with additional safeguards against the increased risk to mid-decade security of supply.

The announcements on energy were an attempt by the Coalition to merge the Conservatives enthusiasm with shale gas with the Liberal Democrats’ desire to move to new renewable forms of energy generation.

Mr Davey announced the long awaited price subsidy that investors can expect if they invest in new wind, solar and biomass generation. He said he believed the move could unlock private sector investment of £110bn and create 250,000 new jobs.

At the same time, his Conservative colleague Michael Fallon announced new support for shale gas – promising tax breaks for exploration, simpler planning rules and new incentives for communities to back “fracking” wells in their areas.

Under the plans drawn up with the industry, communities will receive at least £100,000 for each well where fracking takes place to explore for shale gas and 1 per cent of revenues if the drilling proves to be commercially viable.

Ministers believe the experience of the US, where shale gas has been widely exploited, shows that it could boost tax revenues, create jobs, reduce energy imports – which have reached record highs – and bring down household fuel bills.

But opponents warn that fracking - hydraulic fracturing rock with high-pressure liquid to release the gas – can cause earthquakes, blight the countryside and affect house prices.

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “Shale gas is not the solution to the UK’s energy challenges. Its potential has been hugely over-hyped and there’s little evidence it will drive down fuel prices.”

The main focus for shale in the UK is in Lancashire, and new estimates from the BGS suggest there is as much as 1,300 trillion cubic feet in the Bowland shale, an area stretching from the northern Wales-England border to the North York Moors.

The figure for the area, which covers 11 counties in the north of England, is twice what was previously estimated but it is not known how much of the resource can be extracted.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution