'Wake up to fracking,' says British MP
on 04/09/2013 15:16:59
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs claimed opponents of fracking had exaggerated fears surrounding its use and failed to understand aspects of the process, such as the depth of drilling.
In a speech to rural councillors at a Local Government Association Conference in Warwick, Mr Paterson cited long-established wells at Wytch Farm in Purbeck, Dorset, as an example of properly-regulated and safe oil extraction in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Responding to a question from Councillor Mark Roberts, of West Dorset Council, Mr Paterson said: "Wytch Farm is a brilliant example that you can grow the rural economy by extracting vital hydrocarbons, which we need so we don't have to import them from dangerous, unstable places overseas.
"I am completely clear about this, coming from Shropshire where for centuries we dug out hydrocarbons in the form of coal and started the Industrial Revolution - we cannot turn our back on sources of energy.
"We have got to look at the example of the United States, where the absolutely spectacular reduction in energy (prices) has brought back whole industries which are now no longer competitive in China."
Mr Paterson, the MP for North Shropshire, stressed that the Government would not dilute the rigour and the manner in which oil and gas extraction was regulated.
The minister added: "Wytch Farm has been extracting vital oil for decades with absolutely no damage to the local environment.
"There is no question we are going to dilute the rigour of the manner in which we regulate this but we should all wake up to the massive advantages."
Describing many fears surrounding fracking as "massively, massively exaggerated", Mr Paterson, who recently visited a test well in Poland, added: "We have been doing this for a long time, extracting oil from the earth.
"We know how to make wells which don't leak.
"I think there is an awful amount of scaremongering on this, which is unfortunate.
"We do have to wake up to the fact the world is an unstable place and we are much, much better having home-grown energy."