South Yorkshire could be in for a windfall following the discovery of shale gas across the county – but environmentalists are calling for plans for the fossil fuel to be ditched.
On the day the Government announced that the UK’s search for shale gas ‘gets serious’, the British Geological Survey had established the presence of the gas around Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster.
Reserves have also been found around Manchester, the south of Nottingham, Harrogate, York and Scarborough.
Ministers have announced payments for residents who host controversial ‘fracking’ wells – where rock is fractured with high-pressure liquid to release the gas.
Communities will receive at least £100,000 for each well where fracking takes place to explore for shale gas, and one per cent of revenues if the drilling proves to be commercially viable.
But Yorkshire-based Friends of the Earth Energy Campaigner, Tony Bosworth, said: “Shale gas is not the solution to the UK’s energy challenges.
“Extracting shale gas will have a significant effect on local communities and our environment – the more that’s extracted, the bigger those impacts will be.
“The North could be at the heart of Britain’s green energy and economic transformation, but not by turning it into another ‘gaslands’.
“We need a 21st century energy revolution based on efficiency and renewables, not more fossil fuels that will add to climate change.”
Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “The search for shale gas gets serious today. “Given the scale of its potential, it would be irresponsible of us not to encourage its exploration.”