Fracking may help reduce consumer's gas bills but at what cost?
Scottish News: Fracking gets go ahead despite environmental fears
by Leah Pears
The prospect of a controversial technique to extract shale gas known as ‘fracking’ being used in Scotland moved ahead last week despite major opposition from environmental campaigners.
The UK government announced plans last week to lift a temporary ban on hydraulic fractioning (fracking) put in place last year after the process caused two small earthquakes in Blackpool.
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Supporters of ‘fracking’ claim that natural gas - which fracking extracts - is a cheaper, cleaner and abundant form of alternative energy that could save on household energy bills.
There are currently no fracking applications in Scotland in relation to shale gas, however the Scottish government has said that unconventional gas is a potential source that if explored responsibly could help secure the nation’s energy supply.
Keith Cochrane, head of leading engineering company Weir Group has said that Scotland is “well-placed” to be at the forefront of the growing European shale oil and gas industry.
Rapid growth of the industry has occurred in the US in the last 30 years and Australia and Asia are following suit.
Scotland has a large field of shale that stretches across the Scottish borders with the possibility of more reserves being discovered. The skill base required for engineering and drilling already exists in Aberdeen and the North East, where there is ample capacity for producing the equipment involved.
Environmentalists argue that fracking can lead to tremors, pollution of air and water supplies and damage to the countryside where it takes place.
They also warn that increased reliance on natural gas may result in missing emission reduction targets and contributing to climate change.
The UK government released a statement last week claiming that shale gas extraction provides potential for household gas prices to come down. However, opponents claim that these reductions could be made through low-carbon sources instead, such as wind power.
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Moreover, as with all techniques, improved shale gas extraction in the USA have already resulted in the use of fewer polluting chemicals and an improved recycling of water, resulting in cleaner, faster operations with less impact on the environment