Any fracking proposals in the South Lakes would need deep consideration

FRACKING for shale gas is already a divisive issue in central Lancashire and on the southern coast of England - but now, for the first time, South Lakeland has been implicated as a potential location for the controversial extraction process.

The prospect has certainly divided opinion between the two neighbouring MPs Tim Farron and David Morris. While Mr Farron is intractably opposed to fracking anywhere, Mr Morris is an enthusiastic advocate.

The former claims the shale gas extraction process could damage the environment and increase the incidence of earthquakes in an already geologically sensitive area while the latter highlights the potential economic benefits.

The first exploration licences will be awarded to energy companies next summer and there is no certainty South Lakeland and north Lancashire will end up with shale gas wells.

But those who oppose fracking will understandably be alarmed to learn there could be more of the gas under this area than anywhere in Britain, making it potentially irresistible for exploitation.

A major concern has to be whether anyone in the Government will take any notice of the views of local people.

According to the report published this week by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, more than half of Britain is being considered for shale gas extraction.

If every community objects, the Government could, in theory, use its powers to press ahead with issuing licences just to stop the process being held up.

There are justifiable concerns that scenic and ecologically sensitive areas like South Lakeland could end up with unsightly fracking drill sites.

Thankfully a thorough consideration of the environmental impact must be undertaken before a licence is awarded.

Hopefully that means the quest to produce cheap and secure energy supplies - which are desperately needed - will not be pursued in such haste that it hurts more than it heats.


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