FRACKING for shale gas must go ahead as quickly as possible, peers say today (Thursday, May 8), with part of the region put forward as an ideal location.
The Government is urged to “get its act together” to exploit the technology, to create jobs, hold down energy bills and reduce Britain’s worrying reliance on gas from Russia.
A report by an all-party Lords select committee demands a “streamlining” of regulation, expressing alarm that no drilling applications have been approved yet.
It dismisses concerns about water supplies, quoting experts from Durham University who reported no evidence of contamination from more than one million operations in the US.
And it backs controversial moves to change trespass laws, to allow shale gas companies to drill under homes – three kilometres down - without the owner's permission.
Lord MacGregor, the committee’s chairman, said: “It is way, way down. We don’t believe there would be any impact on landowners and it will enable the Government to get on with it.”
The former Tory Cabinet minister added: “Shale gas offers a remarkable opportunity. We believe the Government needs to get its act together.”
One committee member, former Newcastle City Council leader Lord Shipley, suggested North Yorkshire could lead the way and that the public could be won over.
Last year, Tory peer Lord Howell caused a storm when he suggested fracking should take place in the North-East because it was “uninhabited and desolate”.
But, quizzed by The Northern Echo, Lord Shipley, a Liberal Democrat, said: “That was almost a year ago and it’s very important that this is examined on a case-by case basis.
“In North Yorkshire, there is expertise in extracting potash, even within the national park – and there is also potential for shale gas, as long as safeguards are in place.”
Last year, The Northern Echo revealed that a dozen licences for possible fracking had already been issued to gas companies in this region, mostly at sites in North Yorkshire.
Anne McIntosh, the Thirsk and Malton MP, warned of “shock waves through the countryside”, with drilling earmarked for north and west of Malton and centred on Pickering.
Communities have been offered “compensation” of £100,000 per exploration well and one per cent of the profits - worth several million pounds, say ministers.
However, it is unlikely that all the sites would be fracked – even if drilling went ahead - because many have the potential to generate conventional gas instead.
Today’s report, by the Lords economic affairs committee, calls for the Chancellor to head up a new Cabinet committee to make good promises to go “all out for shale”.
A moratorium on fracking was lifted in 2012, but the Environment Agency has not received a single application for a drilling permit – a delay blamed on “unnecessary duplication”