Desolate NE fine for fracking

Fracking should be carried out in the North East of England where there are "large, desolate areas", says former energy secretary Lord Howell of Guildford.

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Why is fracking controversial?

Fracking uses huge amounts of water; and that has to be transported to the fracking site.

There is also a worry that potentially carcinogenic chemicals used in the process could escape and contaminate groundwater - but the industry says any cases of this is as a result of bad practice.

There are worries fracking could also cause small tremors: there were two small earthquakes in the Blackpool area in 2011 following fracking.

Campaigners also argue fracking distracts Governments from investing in renewable energies.

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What is fracking?

Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.

Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

It can be carried out vertically or by drilling horizontally to the rock layer.

The process can create new pathways to release gas or can be used to extend existing channels.

Fracking allows drilling firms to access difficult-to-reach resources of oil and gas. In the US it has significantly boosted domestic oil production and driven down gas prices.

Desolate North East OK for Fracking

Fracking should be carried out in the North East of England where there are "large, desolate areas" a former energy secretary has said.

Lord Howell of Guildford drew gasps of astonishment from the House of Lords when he made the claims.

During Lords Questions he said: "...there are large and uninhabited and desolate areas. Certainly in part of the North East where there's plenty of room for fracking, well away from anybody's residence where we could conduct without any kind of threat to the rural environment."

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