Fracking: Britain's big balancing act

Today's news on shale gas is one of the most significant announcements for years.

Millions across Britain will be looking at the new map issues by energy officials and asking: "Are the drilling rigs heading to where I live?"

I suspect that people's attitudes to the debate will depend on how close they are to zones marked on the new schedule of areas now open for bids by exploration firms.

Areas in yellow are already licensed, while those in blue are now available for bids. Credit: DECC

This is becoming one of the most tricky balancing acts facing our realm.

It is a balance between the decline of North Sea reserves and a possible replacement.

It is also a balance between local concerns and national strategic interests.

But for many millions of consumers it will be a balance between distrust of energy firms and desperation for cheaper bills... and anything that may make that more likely