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  1. ITV Report

UK is 'unsuitable' for fracking, expert claims

The UK's geology is unsuitable for fracking as a result of changes that happened millions of years ago, a geoscience expert has claimed.

The comments by Professor John Underhill, the chief scientist at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, have been welcomed by campaigners who object to the technique claiming it causes environmental damage.

Professor Underhill said that "the science shows that our country's geology is simply unsuitable for shale oil and gas production".

"The implication that because fracking works in the US, it must also work here is wrong," he added.

He told ITV News that his research showed the UK has been subject to a series of geological changes - including the tilting and buckling of rock formations due to movements of the earth's crust - that mean its geology is unlike areas in the US where fracking has been successful.

Critics claim fracking causes environmental damage Credit: AP

Professors Underhill identified three sites in the UK that are the focus of fracking - the Bowland basin in Lancashire, the Midland Valley in Scotland and the Weald basin in southern England.

"All three of those basins have been affected in one way or another to various degrees by the uplift, by the tilt and by the buckling," he told ITV News.

"As a result of that those basins have been uplifted 55 million years ago so they're not at their maximum burial today - they're no heated up to the same extent as they were before 55 million years ago.

"This makes them fundamentally different from the basins that occur in the United States where shale gas has been extracted."

Campaigning groups will welcome Professor Underhill's comments Credit: PA

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves drilling into the earth then injecting liquid into the rock at high pressure, forcing apart fractures and allowing gas to escape.

Friends of the Earth Scotland said Professor Underhill's findings add weight "to the already overwhelming case against fracking in Scotland, or indeed anywhere in these Isles".

Mary Church, the group's head of campaigns, said support for fracking was "at an all time low"

"We urge the Scottish Government to put an end to this discussion by banning fracking once and for all, and focus instead on a rapid and fair transition to a zero carbon economy," she said.