Cameron would welcome fracking in his back yard

DAVID Cameron would welcome fracking for shale gas in his Oxfordshire constituency, his spokesman confirmed yesterday – as protests against the controversial technique hit the City for the first time.

Campaigners yesterday superglued themselves together outside the High Holborn offices of PR firm Bell Pottinger, while co-ordinated groups broke into the Lichfield head office of drilling firm Cuadrilla, and continued their protests in the Sussex village of Balcombe.

Green MP Caroline Lucas was yesterday arrested alongside her son and around 30 other protesters who were blocking a road outside the Cuadrilla-owned site in Balcombe. The location has become the focus of anti-fracking protests, despite the firm insisting they are currently using conventional techniques to look for oil.

Having repeatedly refused to answer the question last week, Downing Street yesterday confirmed that the Prime Minister would be happy to see drilling sites in his rural seat provided “planning processes were followed” and drilling gained the support of local people.

The British Geological Survey has identified a potential source of shale gas on the eastern edge of Cameron’s constituency towards the Oxfordshire / Buckinghamshire border.

But his spokesman insisted that the government is not considering calls from the Local Government Association for councils to receive a tenth of all revenue from shale gas exploration in their district, insisting the existing offer of one per cent was “a good level”. 

They would not be drawn on suggestions from Tory MP Mark Reckless that police should promise tougher protection for fracking sites.

Supporters of fracking, including the Prime Minister, claim shale gas has the potential to bring down household gas bills and boost Britain’s energy security. It has already revolutionised the US energy market.

But protests have hardened as more sites in the south east have been proposed, with environmentalists claiming the technique – which involves high-pressure blasting of rock – is unsafe.

Cuadrilla condemned yesterday’s protests and insisted it is operating within the law.

“Protesters forced their way into our Lichfield office, harassed our staff and chained themselves to filing cabinets. We condemn all illegal direct actions against our people and operations,” a spokesman said.

“Despite the stresses, the morale of our people in Lichfield, Balcombe and elsewhere is fine. What we are doing is legal, approved, and safe.”