Cameron backs fracking

The Prime Minister today gave his backing to fracking. In a tweet he set out why he thinks the search for oil and gas via the controversial process will benefit Britain.

Full report: PM insists fracking will bring benefits

Cheaper energy bills and tens of thousands of new jobs. Today the Prime Minister said he thought the benefits were too great to ignore as he stressed his support for fracking, even in populated areas of the South.

There are three potential sites in the region. Test drilling has already been been carried out at Cowden near Tunbridge Wells. Tests are underway at at Balcombe in Sussex and planning pernission granted for exploratory work at a site near Sandwich. Around 40 more sites are being looked at.

This week, hundreds of protesters are expected to join an existing protest at Balcombe to set up a climate camp - which will call for fracking to be banned. Andy Dickenson has been there to gauge reaction.

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Fracking protests continue at Balcombe

children at fracking site
Children at the site of fracking in Balcombe Credit: ITV Meridian

Despite the Prime Minister's support of the fracking process, protestors at Balcombe are continuing to oppose the drilling process.

In an effort to persuade communities of the benefits of fracking, the process of extracting gas by the hydraulic fracturing of rock using high pressure liquid, firms will offer £100,000 of benefits for each exploratory well.

David Cameron also believes that fracking could bring in more jobs.

Greenpeace reaction to Cameron's fracking support

In today's telegraph, Greenpeace have responded to comments made by the Prime Minister as he backed the fracking process.

Leila Dean, Greenpeace Energy Campaigner said:

"If this is David Cameron’s attempt to reassure his party and voters, he’ll have to up his game. We’ve seen that foisting fracking on communities – South or North – doesn’t work, and his comments are likely to further stir rebellion in the Home Counties, not quell it."

The Prime Minister's claim that UK shale gas will reduce energy prices doesn't stack. Experts from Ofgem to Deutsche Bank to drilling company Cuadrilla itself agree UK shale will not bring down bills, because unlike the US, the UK is part of a huge European gas market.

The government must come clean about where its getting its advice from, and the role shale gas lobbyists are playing in it."

– Leila Dean, Greenpeace Energy Campaigner

PM - 'no evidence' fracking contaminates water supplies

He sought to play down fears about the environmental dangers posed by fracking, claiming there was "no evidence" that it would cause contamination of water supplies or other damage if properly regulated.

Last week Mr Cameron said Britain would be "making a big mistake" if it did not seriously consider fracking and the prospect of cheaper gas prices.

The Prime Minister said the country is "missing out big time at the moment" and Mr Osborne warned it would be a "real tragedy" for the UK to allow the "energy revolution" to bypass it.

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£100,000 incentive to fracking communities

In an effort to persuade communities of the benefits of fracking, the process of extracting gas by the hydraulic fracturing of rock using high pressure liquid, firms will offer £100,000 of benefits for each exploratory well.

Mr Cameron said:

"Companies have agreed to pay £100,000 to every community situated near an exploratory well... If shale gas is then extracted, 1% - perhaps as much as £10 million - will go straight back to residents."

– David Cameron MP, Prime Minister

He also claimed a thriving shale-gas industry could create tens of thousands of jobs.

PM says we need mix of 'energy resources'

The Balcombe fracking site in West Sussex, attracting lots of protest Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Prime Minister's intervention follows comments from former Government adviser Lord Howell of Guildford, the father-in-law of Chancellor George Osborne, who suggested that fracking should be confined to "desolate" areas of northern England.

Fracking has transformed the energy market in the United States, cutting costs for households and businesses and ministers hope for a similar effect in the UK.

The Prime Minister said it has "real potential to drive energy bills down" and insisted that the Government was not "turning our back" on low carbon generation but needed to secure a mix of energy sources.

Fracking - a 'minor change to the landscape' - PM

David Cameron has insisted that the whole of the country should accept fracking.

The Prime Minister said the process would not damage the countryside and cause only "very minor change to the landscape".

Writing in The Daily Telegraph Mr Cameron said: "I want all parts of our nation to share in the benefits: north or south, Conservative or Labour."

He added:

"If neighbourhoods can really see the benefits - and get proper reassurance about the environment - then I don't see why fracking shouldn't get real public support."

– David Cameron MP, Prime Minister