Fracking debate continues in UK as government sets position on shale gas

The debate around hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the UK has been reignited after the government set out its position on shale gas exploration on the same day that oil and gas firm Cuadrilla resumed drilling at its site in Lancashire.

In a statement, the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said that shale gas could become an important new domestic energy source and support the country’s transition to net zero emissions by 2050.

“We have world-leading regulations that ensure shale gas exploration happens in a safe and environmentally responsible way,” said a BEIS spokesperson. “The Oil and Gas Authority is currently undertaking a scientific assessment of recent industry data which we will consider once completed.”

However, environmental groups have voiced concerns about the government’s shifting attitude to fracking regulations, which currently require an immediate halt to fracking in the event of a minor earthquake tremor.

Infrastructure campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England Daniel Carey-Dawes said: “A decision to relax seismicity regulations would further undermine public confidence and come with significant environmental risks.”

Cuadrilla resumed fracking at Preston New Road for the first time since December after drilling caused underground tremors that breached the 0.5 Richter scale magnitude, forcing the firm to suspend operations.