Shropshire MP's rural shale gas hope

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has insisted he wants to see fracking “all over rural parts of the UK”.

Owen Paterson
Owen Paterson

He said the controversial mining technique would boost jobs and growth and there was a robust regime for ensuring safety.

But the MP for North Shropshire admitted while giving evidence to the Lords Economic Affairs Committee that opponents were winning the war for public opinion.

Senior government figures including Prime Minister David Cameron have highlighted the potential benefits of fracking, where materials are pumped into rock to fracture it and extract gas.

However, critics have questioned claims that it could bring down energy prices and be worth billions of pounds a year to the economy. Concerns have also been raised that the technique can cause earthquakes.

But Mr Paterson told the committee that a minor earthquake happened “every single day” somewhere in Britain and insisted there were rigorous checks on the effects of the mining.

“I would like to see shale gas exploration all over rural parts of the UK, because I think it will bring wealth and prosperity and jobs,” he said.

He said there was a limit to how effectively “a politician in a suit” could advocate fracking and called on all supporters to help make the case.

Large swathes of Shropshire have been identified as potential fracking areas in a Government report.

Consultancy Amec has listed the Meres and Mosses area – stretching from Shrewsbury up thorough north Shropshire and up to Cheshire in the north, Wrexham in the west and central Staffordshire in the far east – as a potential area for exploration.

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