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DECC sets out more land for fracking

Up to 2,880 wells could be built to drill for shale gas, the government has announced.

In the maximum scenario, this could provide a quarter of the UK’s annual demand in the peak years in the 2020s.

DECC has published a regulatory roadmap for shale oil and gas developers, showing two thirds of UK land available for fracking companies to license. The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), also published yesterday, sets out the potential economic and environmental effects of further oil and gas activity.

Development could produce as many as 32,000 jobs in the highest activity scenario. But greenhouse gases during the exploration phase could be up to 0.9 million tonnes of CO2.

Energy minister Michael Fallon said: “There could be large amounts of shale gas available in the UK, but we won’t know for sure the scale of this prize until further exploration takes place. Today marks the next step in unlocking the potential of shale gas in our energy mix.

“It is an exciting prospect, which could bring growth, jobs and energy security. But we must develop shale responsibly, both for local communities and for the environment, with robust regulation in place.”

But Tom Greatrex, Labour's shadow energy minister, said: “Rather than focusing on the need for robust regulation and comprehensive monitoring to address legitimate environmental concerns, the government seem to prefer to give licence to those who make simplistic comparisons to the US that don't stand up to scrutiny.”

And Greenpeace's Anna Jones said: “There's no public mandate for this industrialisation of the English countryside and for digging up new forms of fossil fuels. Real energy security in the UK can only be achieved through clean renewable sources and energy efficiency.”

Cllr Mike Jones, chair of LGA's Environment and Housing Board, said: “Given the significant tax breaks being proposed to drive forward the development of shale gas and the impact drilling will have on local communities, communities should not be short-changed by fracking schemes. One per cent of gross revenues distributed locally is not good enough; returns should be more in line with payments across the rest of the world and be set at 10%.

“The community benefits of fracking should be enshrined in law, so companies cannot withdraw them to the detriment of local people. The LGA is encouraging the development of models which will ensure cash is used to support local priorities and which will treat money from fracking separately from ordinary tax revenue.

“Each fracking scheme is a matter for local decision making and local communities have the power to use the planning system to decide whether or not fracking schemes take place.

“Not only should communities be listened to when they voice their opinions over proposed fracking schemes, they should be fairly remunerated for any gas which is found in their backyards.”

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