Fracking can be ‘bridge’ to green future - report

An anti-fracking poster on the garden gate of a house in Kirby Misperton. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe
An anti-fracking poster on the garden gate of a house in Kirby Misperton. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe
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FRACKING should be used to bridge the gap between conventional oil and gas and a future powered by renewable energy, according to a new report.

The Task Force on Shale Gas has urged the Government to use the money it raises from taxes generated by fracking to help fund improved renewable energy technology.

Its new report also urges Ministers to speed up the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) - a technology with the potential to create hundreds of jobs in Yorkshire.

The industry-funded report has been published as North Yorkshire County Council considers whether to give the go-ahead to the use of the controversial fracking mining method at a site in Ryedale.

It warns that pursuing fracking in the UK should not be seen as an alternative to developing greener forms of energy supply.

Task Force chairman Lord Chris Smith, the former Environment Agency chairman, said: “The UK will only meet its binding climate commitments by moving in the long term to renewable and low carbon energy sources.

“Nonetheless, from the evidence it is apparent that renewables cannot meet the UK’s short term energy needs. Gas must play a role over the medium term.”

Campaigners are urging North Yorkshire County Council to reject an application to carry out test-fracking at a site near Kirby Misperton.

Critics of fracking argue the process - which sees sand, chemicals and water pumped into rock formations deep underground - carries major environmental risks.

Chris Redston, from the Frack Free Ryedale campaign group, said it would be “impossible for anyone to conclude that this report is in any way independent or impartial”.

“Over the summer the Government have removed almost all support for wind and solar energy, at the very time when this needs to be maintained in order to help us make the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Even if the shale gas industry were allowed to develop as fast as it wishes, it would not produce any meaningful quantities of gas for a decade, by which time we will need to be drastically reducing our dependence on fossil fuels,” he said.

The Task Force report is the latest to urge the Government to do more to speed up the development of CCS technology.

Ministers have repeatedly been criticised by MPs for delaying decisions on which prohects to support with £1 billion earmarked for CCS.

A scheme known as the White Rose Project would see a new power plant built at the Drax site near Selby with harmful gases stored under the North Sea.

Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “I completely agree with Lord Smith’s conclusion that shale could play a role as a “bridge” to a low carbon future.

“We are completely committed to securing a low carbon future, however we are not yet at a point where renewables can fully meet our current energy needs.”