Exploiting shale gas reserves in Lancashire could prevent the UK from meeting targets to cut emissions, a new report warned today.
The unconventional source of gas has been discovered in large quantities at Preese Hall, near Weeton, Preston, but environmental campaigners are concerned it will damage investment in renewables.
Earlier this month, protesters descended on energy company Cuadrilla Resources’ rig on farmland between Hesketh Bank and Banks where the firm is carrying out exploration work. It also has sites in Singleton and Westby.
A new report by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, for the Co-operative, suggests that if only a fifth of the total gas resource discovered in the county was recovered, it would lead to emissions totalling two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester, said: “Pursuing shale gas electricity risks displacing urgently required investments in genuinely low-carbon energy supply.
“The Government faces a difficult choice. To lead a new and low-carbon energy revolution or stick with high carbon fossil fuels, forgo its emissions targets and relinquish its hard-won international reputation on climate change.”
Paul Monaghan, head of social goals at the Co-operative, said: “This authoritative report shows that a new ‘dash for gas’ is incompatible with the UK’s carbon reduction targets and that a complete re-appraisal of approach is needed.”
Mr Monaghan also warned evidence was emerging that gas derived from shale may have a significantly bigger carbon footprint than previously thought, undermining its role in a transition to a low-carbon economy.
There are concerns the fracking process used to extract the gas, in which liquid is pumped into the rock at high pressure to fracture and release it, can cause tremors and may pollute water in the area. The study said fracking had caused quakes in Lancashire.