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Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on shale gas

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Regulation, Shale gas

We said in our Manifesto that we would support the safe development of shale gas and as a One Nation Government that’s what we will do, because it’s good for jobs, it’s part of our plan to ensure the potential of all parts of the UK is realised and it’s good for our energy security.

We’re dealing with the problems left by an energy system which for too many years saw a lack of investment and where vital decisions were put off because they were seen as too difficult. But a responsible, long-term energy policy demands a willingness to take decisions today for the good of tomorrow.

This Government is clear that we have a national need to explore shale gas. In the years ahead, many of our coal and nuclear plants will stop generating electricity as they come to the end of their operational lives or in the case of some coal plants, because they simply create too much pollution to be viable.

We need a replacement – an energy system that’s fit for the 21st century. One that powers the economy with cutting edge technology and makes sure Britain reaps the economic benefits of a global clean energy revolution.

That means renewable energy, nuclear, and a transition away from coal, our dirtiest energy source. And that’s where gas has a huge role to play, because moving too quickly to zero-carbon energy risks driving the bills of hardworking people too high. Lots of new low carbon generation cannot be relied upon in the same way that gas-fired power stations can. Having reliable electricity supply is non-negotiable.

Natural gas meets a third of our energy demand and we will need it for many years to come, even as we decarbonise. Britain is currently on course to be importing around 75% of its oil and gas resources by 2030 - we need more secure, home grown energy supplies and shale gas must play a part of that. The choice is not gas or no gas. The choice is how much we rely on gas from abroad or whether we extract more in the UK. Having a choice of where we get our energy, including producing our own at home wherever we can, is the best way to make sure we’re secure.

It’s down to us to make the most of our own energy reserves, and get the best deal for Britain. Just as sixty years ago there were concerns about going into the North Sea to explore for oil and gas, today we are faced with a similar debate around shale gas. But we are in a different place from 60 years ago, we are building on the record and experience that comes with decades of developing our industries while also protecting the environment and the safety of our workforce. Britain has one of the best records in the world on this and we’ve used that experience to develop a regulatory system that does everything possible to allay people’s concerns and protect the environment. We have over 50 years of drilling operation experience which means standards are high, and we’ve also learnt valuable lessons from shale projects abroad.

Shale could create over 60,000 new jobs in the UK and generate billions of pounds for our economy. It could mean more jobs and opportunities for hardworking people, giving them and their families more financial security. And we are setting up a National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, headquartered in Blackpool, to make sure we get the maximum benefit from the resource and young people have the skills they need to benefit from the new jobs created.

At the same time we are determined to ensure that local people, communities and local authorities benefit from shale gas development and we are working with the industry to make that happen. Operators will pay communities £100,000 for each exploration well site, and one per cent of production revenue, worth £5-10 million, to be used as the community sees fit. Councils will keep 100 per cent of the business rate revenues from them. And as we work to build a Northern Powerhouse, we are also creating a shale Sovereign Wealth Fund for the North of England, so that the shale gas resources of the North are used to invest in the future of the North.

Underpinning all this is the issue of planning. We can’t continue with a system that sees applications dragged out for months, or even years on end, which doesn’t give certainty to industry and which could spell the end of a potentially vital national industry. We need a system that delivers timely planning decisions. A system that works effectively for local people and developers. As part of this work the Government will be writing to planning authorities this week to make clear that there is a national need to explore shale in a safe, sustainable and timely way to help meet our objectives for secure energy supplies, economic growth and lower carbon emissions.

Getting shale exploration up and running is a key part of our long-term plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy, create jobs by backing the industries of the future and take our country forward.

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  1. Comment by Paul Marks posted on

    Sloppy short term energy policy putting corporate profit before society that future generations will pay a heavy price for, long after the fracking lobbyists are dead and buried.

    What happened to Cameron's "Greenest Government Ever"?

  2. Comment by Martin Sherring posted on

    This is a shameful development. Research in the USA has shown that shale gas is worse than coal in its contribution to global warming, yet nowhere in the government's attempts to justify shale gas is there an mention of regulation or monitoring of fugitive methane emissions. And as far as the planning process is concerned, the government is simply being inconsistent - if it's so important that local communities have the final say on wind developments, why shouldn't they also have the same rights for shale gas.

  3. Comment by Tom Baxter posted on

    When the EPA in the US (where the fracking companies managed to get an exemption from the clean water bill) conducted its study on the effect on drinking water - after 3 years of trying they could not get 1 single fracking company to agree to conduct tests - they gave up in the end as it was just delaying the reports' publication - but with no data they could only state they could not advise there were any issues with the water supply... Rex Tillerson (CEO of Exxon) signed a letter petitioning against fracking taking place within 1 mile of his home last year - ironic.

  4. Comment by Rohit posted on

    Good thinking.

    I think microbial coal conversion / coal-to-gas will supplement the work programme to raise gas production in the UK and to back out imported LNG. It's a low cost technology which is being developed to effectively replicate the function of an anaerobic digester, but in an in-situ manner.

    No harmful chemicals, no fracking, competitive and very scalable.

  5. Comment by Richard posted on

    "And we are setting up a National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, headquartered in Blackpool" Now I wonder who is behind this project, a corporation with a vested interest no doubt.

  6. Comment by Paul Napier posted on

    For the love of GOD do not do it , many many cases in the USA where this has gone wrong and poisoning water . I rest my case .

  7. Comment by philip beales posted on

    absolute rubbish invest in solar energy, it is the only sustainable safe energy ,allow everyone to contribute to the national grid, allow people to feel as though they are part of the solution.

  8. Comment by Derek Mark Pattison posted on

    Like all ministers in the government, your arrogance overshadows the fact the you are elected to serve the community. It is your job to convince the electorate that fracking is beneficial to the communities most effected and the wider community. To impose fracking against the public will is undemocratic and as such morally illegal.
    I was not impressed by your strident presentation on BBC News today. Try to persuade us of the benefits and carry the support of the public or resign.
    I wish you well

  9. Comment by chris buckland posted on

    Dear Ms Rudd
    Are you and your party sure that Britain is best served by pursuing the current "Fracking and Nuclear or bust" policy currently being portrayed as an interpretation of our, until recently at least, democratic process?
    I would encourage you to investigate AND publish the net present value, including commercial risk, of the two declared energy strategies being followed to be compared against realistic and current alternatives - The majority of which are recognized by those equally advanced civilizations on the other side of the channel.
    You have an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy - one that we can all be proud of... for some reason the control of our future energy resource lies with you and the big 6 - good luck.