MP Owen Paterson welcomes fracking drill plan

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson today welcomed Government plans to drill hundreds of boreholes across the country to prove the safety of controversial fracking.

MP Owen Paterson welcomes fracking drill plan

The former Environment Secretary said drilling for shale gas could bring "enormous opportunity and prosperity to rural areas".

The boreholes, which are used in the process of extracting shale gas from underground, could be drilled all over Britain in a £60 million to £80 million scheme.

The plan, called the energy security and innovation observing system, is awaiting final approval from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Mr Paterson told the Shropshire Star: "I am strongly in favour of fracking. It really is important to convince people.

"There is absolutely no way we are cutting corners or cutting down the rigour of our environmental regulation, and done properly there is nothing to fear."

The extraction involves firing high pressured water jets underground to release gas deposits, and supporters say the new scheme would help put to bed public concern over potential safety risks.

But critics have said that the scheme, funded by taxpayers' money, is more about pulling the wool over the eyes of the public.

There is concern that the process can often cause damage to land, and the Government has recently been debating where liability for the damage should lie.

In Shropshire, plans to extract coal-bed methane gas in Dudleston Heath, near Ellesmere, have attracted a storm of opposition from protesters campaigning against the proposal who believe it could eventually lead to fracking in the county.

The final decision on the application is set to be made in a North Planning Committee in December.

Chemicals giant Ineos announced last week it is to announce a plan to invest up to £640m in shale gas exploration in the UK.

Ministers say they see fracking as an opportunity to develop a new domestic energy source as fields in the North Sea decline.

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