Oil and gas fracking poses a minimal risk to the environment and should be allowed to take place in Britain’s national parks, according to the outgoing head of the Environment Agency.
Fracking in national parks has been openly opposed by influential environment groups such as the National Trust, Greenpeace, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, the RSPB and the Angling Trust.
But Chris Smith, also known as Lord Smith of Finsbury, has sparked a new fracking debate by claiming that the process will not cause a significant visual intrusion in the natural landscape, and poses little risk to the environment.
Contradictions to EA & BGS Survey...
His comments follow a publication of a report commissioned by both the Environment Agency and the British Geological Survey, which warns that fracking activity could lead to methane contamination in large sections of Britain’s water supplies.
Pro-fracking campaigners claim that successful fracking could help ease the energy crisis in Britain, making it easier to compare gas and electricity suppliers and keep household costs down. The development of a nationwide fracking industry would also lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs.
However, the anti-fracking camp counters that drilling plans pose an unprecedented environmental health hazard, as the high pressure drilling processes used in hydraulic fracturing can destabilise vast swathes of land and may release toxic gases into the surrounding areas.
But Lord Smith said that these claims are “grossly exaggerated”, suggesting that fracked oil and gas would be cheap and environmentally safe, compared to current gas and electricity options.
Lord Smith is due to step down from his role as chairman of the Environment Agency later this month. He previously served as a Labour MP and was Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport from 1997 until 2001. Prior to that, he acted as Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment from 1992 until 1994.
He is a widely respected figure in the environmental community and his comments are likely to cause controversy. Earlier this year Dame Helen Ghosh, director general of the National Trust, said that she would not allow any fracking to take place on any National Trust land.
Respected Energy Figure
While it is difficult to compare gas and electricity activity with the proposed fracking intrusions, Lord Smith said that: “Provided it's being done properly, the visual impact can be very limited indeed.”
You can learn more about fracking in the Energy Guides section of the Love Energy Savings site and remember that we offer a free, no-obligation service for anyone wanting to find out if they are paying too much for their home or business energy.