Ukraine crisis: David Cameron pushes for fracking to lessen reliance on Russian oil

 

David Cameron insisted that fracking would start this year as he argued that Britain was obliged because of the Ukraine crisis to press ahead with plans to drill for shale gas.

The emergency triggered by the annexation of Crimea should be a “wake-up call” over the need for Europe to become less reliant on Russian gas supplies, he said.

But environmental groups accused the Prime Minister of exploiting the emergency to press ahead with the controversial technique.

Mr Cameron forecast that some shale gas wells would be “up and running” by the end of this year and insisted that enthusiasm for fracking as an alternative energy source would grow once it had begun.

The process involves releasing gas trapped in shale deep underground by blasting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into rock at high pressure.

The British Geological Survey has estimated there could be 1,300trn cubic feet of shale gas underneath wide stretches of the United Kingdom.

Supporters, who include Conservative ministers, argue that fracking has the potential to drive down energy prices and boost the economy by tapping into the reserves.

However, critics say that fracking can contaminate the water supply and create environmental harm including earth tremors.

Mr Cameron's comments, following the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, reflects growing concern that European leaders are limited in the pressure they can put on Moscow because of their dependence on Russia for supplies of gas. Officials believe Britain can learn from the speed with which the United States has embraced fracking.

The Prime Minister said: “Why has it taken so long in the UK and Europe as compared to the US? We can ponder that or alternatively we can just do what this Government is doing which is to roll up the sleeves, simplify the process, make the permissions easier, getting on with some wells moving.”

He argued: “There's a lack of understanding about the nature of what actually happens and how much it has in common with the ways that we extract gas in the world today.”

Mr Cameron said he believed that it was Europe's duty to become more energy-dependent, including through the development of fracking.

“I think something positive should come out of this for Europe, which is to take a long hard look at its energy resilience.”

But Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, said: “Britain hardly imports any gas from Russia, and while the PM is right to raise the importance of energy self-sufficiency, he is utterly misguided if he thinks fracking is the way to get it.”

Lawrence Carter, Greenpeace's UK energy campaigner, said: “This is a cynical attempt by the Prime Minister to exploit the Ukraine crisis to force through his unpopular plans for fracking in the face of growing public opposition.”

He said: “The most pragmatic and sensible way of boosting our energy security is to massively reduce the amount of energy we waste, while also investing in tried and tested clean energy technologies.”

Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth energy campaigner, said: “Shale gas has been hugely over-hyped, threatens local communities and is unlikely to come on stream in any quantity until the 2020s at the earliest, making it the wrong response to the current crisis in the Ukraine.”

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

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

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

English Teacher (Bristol and South Gloucestershire)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: English teachers for day to day cover,...

Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 6 Teacher RequiredThis teaching...

SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's Stortford / Stansted

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week