Rapid Responses

Shale gas potential

[Re: Britain needs to embrace the global shale gas revolution, Friday]

Allister Heath is right that shale gas has had a huge impact on the US energy sector, with a resultant impact on the economy. However, he fails to stress the adverse environmental impact of certain hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. The Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering recently recommended steps to be taken to ensure fracking is carried out responsibly. While we focused on environmental risks, our report highlighted the need for investigation of other risks, like the carbon footprint of fracking should methane escape into the atmosphere during the extraction. Also, although various estimates have been made of the UK’s shale gas reserves, we do not have enough information to make a rigorous estimate of how much of this resource can be technically and economically extracted. Shale gas may or may not be the answer to the UK’s energy needs. The situation is far more complex than Heath suggests.

Robert Mair, professor of geotechnical engineering at Cambridge University

The government is failing to act on Britain’s impending energy gap. Given the closure of old coal-fired stations and the planned closure of several nuclear plants, using cheap shale as a power source is the logical next step. Since it takes so long to bring new capacity online, we must start planning now.

Matt Gash



The Lib Dem conference is an odd thing. They’re discussing all the policies they would pursue, if only they didn’t have power.

Lib Dem logic: Vince Cable announces a £1bn “bank” to help small businesses grow, while Nick Clegg says he will tax success.

I’m confused. Labour considered those on £50,000 so poor they needed tax credits. Nick Clegg wants them to pay a wealth tax.

The more things change in the Eurozone, the more they stay the same. Structural reform remains elusive.