This is a very broad question so it might be worth spending some time looking at a number of other answers we have sourced to give you the full picture. However, we will try to answer your question here.
Many people believe that the primary advantage of producing natural gas from shale is that it means we will be less reliant on other countries for our energy.
The other big advantage of shale gas is that it is considerably cleaner than coal. At present we get 40% of our electricity in this country from burning coal and we need to reduce this figure considerably in order to meet targets to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Although renewable sources of energy are, of course, cleaner than fossil fuels, they are very expensive so even green campaigners such as Stephen Tindale support shale gas extraction as a way of helping this country make the transition to renewable energy. We should also remember that we will need a reliable energy source at times when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.
Supporters of shale gas exploration also cite the number of jobs that would be created if shale gas extraction were allowed to take place on a large scale in the UK as well as the tax revenues that would be paid to the Government by shale gas operators.
However, people who do not support shale gas exploration point to a number of disadvantages. Many people worry about the possibility of water sources being contaminated. Although we do not think that is likely in the UK, given the fact that shale gas reserves are such a long way below aquifers, they point to examples in the US where this has happened, although these have not been common.
People also, understandably, want to see our countryside preserved and would prefer it if no development of any kind was allowed to take place. While we do understand this view up to a point, it is nevertheless the case we will need to make a trade-off between providing energy to cook and to heat our homes and preserving green spaces. The total size of a shale gas pad is about two football pitches and one should remember that the land can be restored after the gas has been extracted.
A further disadvantage of shale gas exploration, like for all development, is that it may mean more lorries on the roads. Once again, we do understand that this is something that can have a negative impact on communities. Therefore, we hope that local authorities take all the advantages and disadvantages into account before making their decision on whether to allow shale gas extraction to take place.
Joe Howe, Professor of sustainable development at the University of Chester said: “Given the advantages and disadvantages of shale extraction, it is important that local authorities make a proper assessment and consult with local communities before making their decision. In my view, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, but it is still important that people know the facts.”
Thank you to everyone who submitted questions similar to the one above. Questions we have received which are similar are shown below:
- Where abouts is this going to be done, and how will this help
- Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
- We are not sufficiently informed about all pros/cons of the operations.
- More information about pros & cons needs to be made more public.
- What are the potential losses? What are the potential gains?
- Do the positives outweigh the negatives? E.g The end justifying the means.
- Is it good or bad? I think it's bad - convince me.
- Is it good for us in the long run?
- Are there any benefits at all from fracking at all?
- Does it really do as much harm as they say it does?
- What is the pros for the people of the area against their cons?
- What are the advantages, disadvantages, and dangers? Is it sustainable and how long will it take to come into production? How long could it last?
- How will fracking achieve anything positive? Surely it will increase our dependency on an unsustainable sector of our economy. It will damage communities, no?
- Is it going to cost me anything? In tax is this going to create jobs? How profitable is it going to be to the rich and the poor? How is it going to effect pollution? Why do we need it ? What is the benefit?