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I'm backing fracking, says Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff
A COUNTY MP has come out in support of fracking – saying the controversial method could save “an entire generation” money off their energy bills.
Peter Luff, who represents Mid-Worcestershire, has risked the wrath of green groups by firmly backing drilling into the countryside for gas.
No companies have yet secured Government licences to dig in Worcestershire – but in neighbouring Herefordshire 200 people have signed a petition calling for any speculative applications to be banned.
The practise is gaining support as a way of finding new shale gas and oil reserves by drilling into open land, despite campaigners’ fears over potential earthquakes, damage to the landscape and contamination of water supplies.
Mr Luff, a Conservative, said: “I strongly support the exploratory process because energy security is so important to our economy. If we can make this work, we should because it will help stabilise energy prices for a generation of households.
“We need to look at it carefully to make sure appropriate safety measures are in place, but also embrace it.
“We’ve got a domestic shortage of reliable onshore gas storage and this could make a difference, so it’s not something we can afford to say no to.”
He also believes the drilling will be on a “much smaller scale” than campaigners fear.
Any companies that want an exploratory licence to drill into the ground need permission from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and planning approval.
A DECC spokesman said Worcestershire hasn’t been subject to any bids – but if one was forthcoming it would be considered in line with other counties.
He said: “An interested company would have to come to us first, and we’d issue an exploratory licence, but they would need consent from the planning authority, Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive too.”
Worcestershire County Council’s planning committee would be responsible for granting any permission.
Councillor Anthony Blagg, the cabinet member for the environment, said: “We’ve got an energy crisis nationally which will only get worse – but the problem with fracking is that it could add to carbon emissions, and certainly won’t help us meet targets.
“It would come at a cost to the environment, so I’d like to see the Government focus on renewable energy more.”
The Government has produced a map where licences have been handed to companies for exploratory drilling so far.
It includes Staffordshire, Shropshire, Bristol, Monmouthshire, and swathes of countryside in Wales, the South East, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire, as well as many more counties.