Conservative peer Lord Howell has apologised for "any offence caused" by his comments about fracking, and insisted he did not believe the north east was "desolate".
"I apologise for any offence caused. I certainly did not intend to suggest that the North East is desolate and I do not believe it to be the case. There are parts of the country that are less densely inhabited than others.
"That includes parts of the North East but also other areas in the South of England as well.
"The Shale gas industry should be encouraged to develop in a sustainable way where it is appropriate to do so and in way that ensures communities benefit, which could be in many different parts of country."
More top news
Arthur Hutchinson claims the whole life term amounts to inhumane and degrading treatment, as he has no hope of release.
After a frosty start, southeastern areas will be dry with increasing amounts of sunshine developing. It will remain cold throughout the day.
Higher food and petrol prices are expected to send inflation to its highest level in 28 months when official figures are released later.