“I want Britain to be a leader of the shale gas revolution – because it has the potential to create thousands of jobs and keep energy bills low for millions of people.”
Many commentators including this blog have shown how unlikely that is.
However, shale gas could easily stop the incessant rise in energy prices by using shale gas revenue to support the development of green alternatives.
What we saw at Balcombe was in some ways a triumph of free expression, responsibility, regulation and control.
- The police guaranteed that protestors could express their opinions while upholding the rights of others.
- Cuadrilla has shown a remarkably responsible approach to the development, especially in their lack of inflammatory language and their preparedness to consider and comission independent scientific measurements of the environment.
- The responsible attitude was matched by the Balcombe Parish Council, whose report on the exploration before it started is a fine example of evidence-based pragmatism delivered in a clear way. I look forward to a summary report in about a year or so that describes their experience of all aspects of the exploration.
- The Environmetal Agency applied the existing regulations and control in what seems to be a fair and balanced manner, taking account of environmental sensitivities and recognising pragmatic approaches when necessary. Even after the fact the Environmental agency are having meetings with the local residents to see if they can communicate and inform better.
The price of energy is an environmental issue, but it is also one of government policy, and a decision the government could make with very little delay is to pledge at least to stabilise energy prices for 5 years by using shale gas revenues.