What is fracking?More properly known as hydraulic fracturing, fracking is a process in which liquid is pumped deep underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas or oil trapped within it.
How much potential is there for developing shale gas and oil?
Assessment by the British Geological Survey suggests there are an estimated 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas resources in the Bowland Shale which stretches across northern England. There are “modest” shale gas and oil resources in Scotland, with an estimated 80 trillion cubic feet in the Midland Valley and an estimated six billion barrels of shale oil in the area which stretches across Scotland and includes Glasgow and Edinburgh. And there is an estimated 4.4 billion barrels of shale oil in the Weald Basin in southern England.
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Why is fracking controversial?
The process has been mired in controversy since it hit the headlines in 2011 for causing two minor earthquakes in Lancashire, prompting a temporary ban on fracking in the UK. The ban was later lifted, with controls put in place to prevent tremors, but fracking continues to attract opponents who fear it can also cause water contamination, noise and traffic pollution. Environmentalists also warn that pursuing new sources of gas – a fossil fuel – is not compatible with efforts to tackle climate change, and that the focus should be on developing cleaner sources of energy such as renewables.