Controversial Fracking Operations Get Go-Ahead

The controversial drilling method, fracking, has been given the go-ahead following a report by experts presented to the government.

Despite having cause two earthquakes and causing serious doubts over the safety of the wells that have already been drilled., the advice of the first official British government report into fracking, published on Tuesday, is all but certain to be accepted by ministers.

The result could be thousands of new wells being drilled across the UK.

During hydraulic fracking a well is drilled hundreds of metres deep and pumped full of water, sand and chemicals in order to release methane gas. While the experts accept that two small earthquakes in Blackpool last year were caused by the operation, they have recommended it should be allowed on a wide scale.

The report, written by Peter Styles, professor at Keele University, Brian Baptie of the British Geological Survey, and Christopher Green, an independent fracking expert, found that fracking "should include a smaller pre-injection and monitoring stage", which did not take place at the existing sites, and called for "an effective monitoring system to provide near real-time locations and magnitudes of any seismic events [as] part of any future fracking operations".

Environmental groups are worried not just about the potential dangers from earth tremors caused by fracking, but about the effects on the UK's push to tackle climate change. Last month, the chancellor, George Osborne, and the new energy secretary, Ed Davey, launched a new "dash for gas" when they announced measures to encourage the building of new gas-fired power stations across the UK. Green groups argue this will put carbon-cutting targets out of reach, by locking in high-carbon emitting infrastructure and crowding out investment in renewables. "We should be developing the huge potential of clean British energy from the sun, wind and waves, not more dirty and dangerous fossil fuels," said Andy Atkins, the executive director of Friends of the Earth.

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