Rags Martel reports:
Friends of the Earth head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton said: "If we could harness the hot air generated by Boris we could probably power the whole of London.
"Shale gas has been hugely over-hyped and there's little evidence it will lead to cheaper fuel bills.
"It's dirty, unnecessary and a threat to our local environment and climate - any attempt to frack in the London area would surely provoke widespread opposition.
"Instead of gambling with shale gas we should be building an affordable power system based on the UK's huge renewable energy potential, such as the London Array."
Fracking in the UK has up to now predominantly been in the north of England but now the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates areas across the Wessex and Weald basin in Surrey and Sussex may hold 700 million barrels of recoverable shale oil, or more than a year’s supply for Britain.
“The rock in the Weald is splendid, it’s extremely good for shale oil,” said Fivos Spathopoulos, a visiting lecturer of petroleum geology at London’s Imperial College who studied the basin for about seven years. “If it works, it’ll be big but we won’t know exactly how big until we drill.”
Currently the proposed site closest to London is in Balcombe in West Sussex, between Brighton and London. The shale gas company Cuadrilla is to carry out exploratory drilling there in the summer, despite local protests.
However, politicians have suggested that communities who will suffer from the noise and disruption caused by shale gas drilling will be compensated.
Hydraulic fracturing - commonly known as 'fracking' - is a technique in which a mixture is injected at high pressure into holes drilled in shale to locate gas or petroleum.
In a letter to the Times newspaper today, Boris Johnson wrote:
"Sir, Many people have not yet wokenup to the reality that the population of London is now growing faster than anycity in Europe. As I make clear in our 2020 Vision, this demographic explosionis placing huge demands on our infrastructure — including power generation.
It is a tragic comment on Labour’s failure to plan ahead that in only two years our electricity capacity headroom (the difference between demand and supply) will be down to 2 per cent.
We will have to ask some of our more energy-intensive industries not to operate at peak times, the kind of policy we last saw in the 1970s.
It is time for maximum boldness in energy supply. I fully support the Government’s drive for nuclear power, and if reserves of shale can be exploited in London we should leave no stone unturned, or unfracked, in the cause of keeping the lights on."
In a letter to The Times newspaper, the Mayor Boris Johnson has said he is willing to offer up the streets of London to companies hoping to solve Britain’s energy crisis by drilling for shale gas.
So far the dash for shale gas, where gas trapped in rock is harvested using a technique known as fracking, has focused on sites in the north of England.