Expediency has triumphed over concerns about public safety. The Tories believe that gas prices will plunge in England and Wales as they have done in the United States as a result of fracking. They may well be disappointed, as Lancashire Labour MP Graham Jones points out. Even if the miracle were to happen, and the UK were to become self-sufficient in gas, would a major earthquake be a price worth paying for lower fuel bills? Geologists seem content that the tremors which fracking caused around Fylde were merely an acceleration of natural settling, but what may be relatively benign on the Lancashire plain could be destructive in more disordered geology. Even if we are willing to pay that price, what about the cost to the environment? Some may find the Green Party's language apocalyptic, but the thrust of their logic should not be ignored.
One wonders whether Ed Davey totally believed the answer he gave in the House of Commons yesterday.
In Wales, the Western Mail believes that the green light has been given to shale gas exploitation in Wales. I believe that the Welsh Government has some say in the matter, but so far they have not even issued the technical guidance to local authorities that the Liberal Democrats have called for. There is also the little matter of the local environment, which planning authorities must have regard for when making decisions.
The consideration by Bridgend CBC of an application for shale gas exploration in Maesteg will be instructive. I understand that Peter Black, AM for South Wales West, has registered an objection and that the planning committee will discuss the matter in January.