The Prime Minister has said he cannot see anything wrong with fracking if it is properly regulated.
David Cameron dismissed concerns about the controversial method of extracting gas that he believes can cause only “very minor changes to the landscape”.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Cameron said: “If neighbourhoods can really see the benefits - and get proper reassurance about the environment - then I don't see why fracking shouldn't get real public support.”
He added: “I want all parts of our nation to share in the benefits: north or south, Conservative or Labour.”
Environmentalists disagree, arguing that the process of extracting gas by the hydraulic fracturing of rock using high pressure liquid can cause irreparable damage to the countryside, cause small earth tremors and water contamination.
Former Government adviser Lord Howell of Guildford, the father-in-law of Chancellor George Osborne, recently suggested that fracking should be confined to “desolate” areas of northern England.
But the Prime Minister believes there is “no evidence” it would cause contamination of water supplies or other damage if properly regulated.
He said it has “real potential to drive energy bills down” and insisted that the Government was not “turning our back” on low carbon generation but needed to secure a mix of energy sources.
Fracking is credited with transforming the energy market in the United States and cutting costs for households and businesses.
In an effort to persuade communities of the benefits of fracking, firms will offer £100,000 of benefits for each exploratory well.
Mr Cameron said: “Companies have agreed to pay £100,000 to every community situated near an exploratory well... If shale gas is then extracted, 1 per cent - perhaps as much as £10 million - will go straight back to residents.”
Last week, Mr Cameron said Britain would be “making a big mistake” if it did not seriously consider fracking and the prospect of cheaper gas prices.
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