Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said in response to plans for central Government to fast-track planning applications for fracking projects:
This is a welcome development as it is important that Government steps up efforts to move our energy future away from coal. Gas, and in this case shale gas, provides an alternative that will have a real impact on reducing the UKâs greenhouse gas emissions. However, a vital part of ensuring a joined up approach to creating our 21st century energy infrastructure is ensuring local planning committees have the tools and information to make decisions for their communities.
The Government must create an environment whereby local authorities are equipped to deal with decision making on large energy infrastructure and engineering projects. This could be achieved through collaborative policy making and the provision of easy to understand information about fracking engineering processes and risks.
Hydraulic fracking is not a âsilver bulletâ, but developing projects in the UK could play a part in securing the countryâs future energy demands, this is combined with the opportunities for local communities to create a multi-generational industry that promotes engineering skills and regional economic growth.
It is vital that industry, Government and academia work together to help inform the public about the precautions being taken to ensure that fracking projects are safe. Approved projects will be closely monitored by both the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive to ensure environmental impact assessments are carried out and appropriate well depth and integrity is maintained.