Fracking regulator required

There are calls for fracking to be properly regulated
There are calls for fracking to be properly regulated

A national group set up to look into all aspects of the shale gas industry is calling for the creation of a lone regulator to police fracking.

The first report from the Task Force on Shale Gas identifies the need for a single UK regulator to be responsible for onshore underground energy and assume a number of responsibilities currently held by the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and the regulatory role of the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Task Force chairman Lord Chris Smith said: “This first report has reviewed evidence, talked with experts and communities, and has developed a series of conclusions and recommendations.

“We have been struck by how complex the regulatory framework appears and how this leads to a lack of confidence in the system.

“The creation of a bespoke regulator for onshore underground energy would command more public confidence.”

The Task Force also recommends allowing the community to be involved in the monitoring of fracking and that community engagement should begin before a planning proposal is formally submitted.

Lord Smith said: “Our guiding principle is to provide the accurate, factual, impartial information people need in order to make up their own minds about shale gas.”

Locally, Ineos has bought up 700 square miles of shale exploration licences in and around its Grangemouth plant and is also staking claims in northern England.

While the Scottish Government’s moratorium on fracking is in place, Ienos has launched a public engagement campaign designed to win the trust and approval of residents.

However, anti-fracking groups such as Friends of the Earth believe communities will not be fooled by “spin doctors and glossy videos”.

The Ineos public meetings, which will run from 7 to 9 p.m., are due to take place at Denny High School on April 16 and Falkirk High School on April 22.