FRACKING remains the most controversial of environmental issues, with opposing sides in an unbreakable deadlock between the arguments for economic benefits and those for protection of landscapes and communities.
Just how intractable the arguments remain is illustrated by the resignation of the so-called fracking tsar, Natascha Engel. In writing to Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark, she says that developing the industry is an impossible task.
Ms Engel may be right in her belief. Whilst on the one hand, the fracking industry has made great efforts to convince Britain that extraction of shale gas can be done safely and produce great economic benefits, on the other it has failed to persuade those living in areas targeted for the process that they and their environment will not suffer as a result.
The Government has attempted to find common ground between the two sides by introducing a “traffic light” system which halts fracking when earth tremors of a certain magnitude are reached.
This, however, has pleased no-one. Whether Ms Engel realises or not, for her to complain that the restriction on earth tremors “amounts to a de facto ban” would appear to those opposed to fracking that she is on the side of the companies wishing to press ahead, which will not break the impasse.
That can only deepen the distrust of communities potentially affected. Ms Engel’s resignation is a further sign that there is no end yet in sight to the arguments over this most controversial of energy policies.