Fracking Must Be Accepted By Britain, Says PM
David Cameron says the country should accept fracking, claiming the controversial method of extracting gas will create jobs and cheap energy.
The Prime Minister took to Twitter on Monday morning to say: "I believe the whole country should get behind fracking - providing cheap energy and jobs across the UK."
He said the process would not damage the countryside and cause only "very minor change to the landscape".
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Cameron also said: "I want all parts of our nation to share in the benefits: north or south, Conservative or Labour."
He added: "If neighbourhoods can really see the benefits - and get proper reassurance about the environment - then I don't see why fracking shouldn't get real public support."
Asked if Mr Cameron would support fracking in his Witney constituency in Oxfordshire, a No 10 spokesman said that he saw "huge potential benefits" from shale gas extraction although it was important that local people were properly consulted.
"Ultimately, that view is as relevant in his constituency as anywhere else in the country," the spokesman said.
Mr Cameron's comments come after former Government adviser Lord Howell of Guildford, the father-in-law of Chancellor George Osborne, suggested fracking should be confined to "desolate" areas of northern England.
Fracking - the process of extracting gas by the hydraulic fracturing of rock using high pressure liquid - has transformed the energy market in the US.
It has cut costs for households and businesses, and ministers hope for a similar effect in the UK.
The PM said it has "real potential to drive energy bills down" and insisted the Government was not "turning our back" on a low carbon generation but needed to secure a mix of energy sources.
In an effort to persuade communities of the benefits of fracking, firms will offer £100,000 of benefits for each exploratory well.
Mr Cameron added: "Companies have agreed to pay £100,000 to every community situated near an exploratory well ... If shale gas is then extracted, 1% - perhaps as much as £10m - will go straight back to residents."
He sought to play down fears about the environmental dangers posed by fracking, claiming there was "no evidence" that it would cause contamination of water supplies or other damage if properly regulated.
Last week Mr Cameron said Britain would be "making a big mistake" if it did not seriously consider fracking and the prospect of cheaper gas prices.
The village of Balcombe in West Sussex has become the focal point of anti-fracking protests as energy company Cuadrilla attempts to drill there.