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24.01.14

Shale gas ‘fresh driver’ for UK growth

Fracking could boost the UK’s economy by helping to re-shore businesses to the country, the prime minister has stated.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Cameron said that shale gas could be a “fresh driver of growth”. It could help to supply cheaper, more secure energy and support greater competitiveness for businesses.

Environmental campaigners have warned that fracking could cause water contamination and environmental damage.

Cameron said: “There is no doubt that when it comes to re-shoring in the US, one of the most important factors has been the development of shale gas, which is flooring US energy prices, with billions of dollars of energy cost-savings predicted over the next decade.

“The key challenge for politicians and business leaders in Europe is how we make a success of globalisation.

“For years the West has been written off. People say that we are facing some sort of inevitable decline. They say we can't make anything anymore.

“Whether it's the shift from manufacturing to services or the transfer from manual jobs to machines, the end point is the same dystopian vision – the East wins while the West loses; and the workers lose while the machines win. I don't believe it has to be this way.

“Of course, we shouldn't be starry-eyed about globalisation – it presents huge challenges as our economies and societies try to adapt – but neither should we take this pessimistic view."

But Labour warned that shale gas may not lower energy prices, and that relying heavily on the volatile price of gas maybe risky.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “After so many government schemes have failed to deliver for business, manufacturers will want to see what this one offers in practice.

“Labour would create a proper British Investment Bank supported by a network of regional banks, a skills system which delivers for businesses of all sizes and would cut business rates to help growing firms."

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