Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has urged the country to wake up to the “massive” potential advantages of fracking and accused opponents of the technique of scaremongering.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs claimed opponents of fracking had exaggerated fears surrounding its use and failed to understand aspects of the process, such as the depth of drilling.
In a speech at a Local Government Association Conference in Warwick, Mr Paterson cited long-established wells at Wytch Farm in Purbeck, Dorset, as an example of properly-regulated and safe oil extraction in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Responding to a question from Councillor Mark Roberts, of West Dorset Council, Mr Paterson said: “Wytch Farm is a brilliant example that you can grow the rural economy by extracting vital hydrocarbons, which we need so we don’t have to import them from dangerous, unstable places overseas. I am completely clear about this, coming from Shropshire where for centuries we dug out hydrocarbons in the form of coal and started the Industrial Revolution - we cannot turn our back on sources of energy. We have got to look at the example of the United States.’’