On Parliament's return from the summer recess, I was contacted by a number of local people regarding a Westminster Hall debate on discuss fracking.
I must confess that this is a subject on which I do not hold particularly strong views. However, I am broadly of the opinion that fracking can be done safely and that banning it would be an overreaction.
Natural gas is a significantly cleaner form of energy than oil and coal, and is one which is quite abundant in the UK. Though not without its shortcomings, fracking also presents the UK with the opportunity to become more energy independent. Of course, like most relatively new forms of energy extraction, there are questions of safety in regard to the surrounding population and environment. This is why I am supportive of an extensive set of conditions being met prior to consent for fracturing being given, and greater restrictions on fracking in areas of outstanding natural beauty or near points where water is abstracted for domestic and food production purposes.
I am pleased that the Government has been rigorous to this end (for example, with fracking wells unable to be situated within the boundaries of a National Park, and fracking unable to take place within protected groundwater source areas). The UK needs a diverse energy mix, and shale gas has a part to play within this context.