The Church of England announced the publication today of its Briefing Paper on Shale Gas and Fracking.
The Paper assesses shale gas and fracking as they relate to local communities, the environment, UK energy policy and the UK's commitment to carbon reduction targets under the COP21 agreement. It draws on the report into shale gas and fracking published by the independent Committee on Climate Change in July 2016.
The Briefing Paper concludes that any development of shale gas reserves in the UK must not distract or delay efforts to expand low-carbon renewable energy (including community-owned energy) or other efforts to meet the UK's long-term 2050 carbon reduction targets.
The key to whether or not fracking is an acceptable practice turns on three points:
- the place of shale gas within a transitional energy policy committed to a low carbon economy
- the adequacy and robustness of the regulatory regime under which it is conducted
- the robustness of local planning and decision-making processes
The Briefing Paper accepts that a robust planning and regulatory regime is possible. Ongoing research into, and monitoring of, any impact on health and the environment is needed as part of that regime.
The Paper recognises and sympathises with the concerns of individuals and communities who are directly affected by fracking activities in their neighbourhoods and asks that their legitimate concerns are heard. Where developments go forward it is essential that appropriate protections and compensation are put in place.