10 Nov 2013

UK shale gas fracking considered safe - report

11:02 am on 10 November 2013

A study by the water industry in Britain has concluded that "fracking" to extract shale gas is safe.

Water UK is due to release a report on hydraulic fracturing by the end of the year, but the organisation has told the BBC it believes any risks can be mitigated.

Meanwhile, energy minister Michael Fallon has said shale gas exploration could soon take place in Wiltshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent.

Mr Fallon told the Daily Telegraph that areas "right across the South" and the Midlands could also be investigated.

"There are genuine concerns, but there are also myths and we are tackling them," he said.

The minister added that the regulatory barriers to fracking had been lowered.

Opponents say water used in the process could be contaminated and could enter domestic supplies.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change said a report being released later this year would conclude the process of extracting shale gas from rock would not contaminate the water supply.

A spokesman for Water UK, which represents the industry and has carried out the report, said: "There are risks. But they're risks we feel could be mitigated."

Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping water and chemicals into shale rock at pressure.

The BBC reports it was temporarily banned in Britain after it was blamed for two earth tremors in Blackpool in 2011, but a government review concluded it was safe if adequately monitored.