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17th January 2017

The Bishop of Salisbury writes: 

A Briefing Paper on Shale Gas and Fracking has been published today (attached) which was prepared for the Mission and Public Affairs Council and the Environmental Working Group

The Paper assesses shale gas and fracking as they relate to local communities, the environment, UK energy policy and the UK’s commitment to carbon reduction targets under the COP21 agreement. It draws on the report into shale gas and fracking published by the independent Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Climate Change in July 2016.

The Briefing Paper concludes that any development of shale gas reserves in the UK must not distract or delay efforts to expand low-carbon renewable energy (including community-owned energy) or other efforts to meet the UK’s long-term 2050 carbon reduction targets.

The key to whether or not fracking is an acceptable practice turns on three points:

· the place of shale gas within a transitional energy policy committed to a low carbon economy
· the adequacy and robustness of the regulatory regime under which it is conducted
· the robustness of local planning and decision-making processes

The Briefing Paper accepts that a robust planning and regulatory regime is possible. Ongoing research into, and monitoring of, any impact on health and the environment is needed as part of that regime.

The Paper recognises and sympathises with the concerns of individuals and communities who are directly affected by fracking activities in their neighbourhoods and asks that their legitimate concerns are heard. Where developments go forward it is essential that appropriate protections and compensation are put in place.

We hope this paper will help us understand a “live”, and contentious, issue about which there are many strong feelings on different sides, both in the church and in the wider community. It is offered as a resource for ongoing, evidence-based, discussion.

GCEJN report is available here