April 17 - The UK government backs the exploration of shale gas nearly one year after it temporarily banned the drilling method which triggered two earthquakes in Britain but that has also revolutionized the U.S. energy market. Hayley Platt reports.
Blackpool in northwest England is one of the UK's best loved seaside towns. It's also the source of shale gas which Cudrilla Resources wants to extract. Test drilling - know as fracking - caused two small earthquakes last year and the company's plans were put on hold. They've now been told they can resume exploration but only under stricter monitoring, . Dr Christopher Green has produced a report into the company's operation for the government SOUNDBITE: Dr Christopher Green, Director of G Frac Technologies Ltd, saying (English): "Basically what we've said is do two smaller injections at the beginning and analyse it correctly. There is a need to check the data that comes in and make sure that we're not seeing something before we even get to the tremor stage." Shale gas has revolutionised the energy market in the United States, pushing prices to 10-year lows. But fracking is controversial. The process involves pumping pressurised water and chemicals underground to crack open the rock and release the gas . Environmentalists say it pollutes the surrounding water and can cause gas to leak into the atmosphere. But energy groups say Britain shouldn't be quick to dismiss shale gas as a future source of energy. SOUNDBITE:Simon Moore, Policy Exchange, saying, (English): "If the experience of the U.S. is replicated in the UK it could potentially make a very big difference. What we've called for at Policy Exchange is for government policy around energy to be flexible and adaptable so that changing circumstances like shale gas and other technologies as well can be reflected as we go forward." Last year fracking was banned in France where some of the largest reserves of shale gas can be found. The UK government is still considering the long term future of shale in Britain. Over the next six weeks it's inviting the public to give their views on the report's finding before making a final decision. Hayley Platt Reuters.