Shale gas ‘may help avert a food crisis’

Energy: Fracking rigs are a common sight in the USA

Energy: Fracking rigs are a common sight in the USA

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Shale gas will help the UK meet its future food and energy needs, expert analysts have said following a policy paper by the North West Energy Task Force.

Fertiliser producers say they will be able to stabilise their production costs using shale gas and allow UK farmers to meet increased global demand for food.

Debbie Baker, from GrowHow, the UK’s only remaining primary nitrogen fertiliser producer, said: “As gas is our primary raw material it determines our sustainability as a business.

“Over the long term, we​ believe shale gas can help retain UK fertiliser production and has the potential to improve future energy and food security in the UK.”

Cuadrilla is applying to frack at two sites in Lancashire. County councillors are to consider its applications next month. The Task Force says its analysis suggests that without the increased supply of fertilisers, the world is likely to face a food crisis.

The paper points to a report by the United Nations, which says that fertilisers are essential for feeding half of the world’s population and that they will be “fundamental to ensure global food security over the 21st century”.

In addition to boosting food security through a stabilisation of fertiliser costs, natural gas from shale could help to cut harmful methane emissions from cattle.

The NWETF paper says that, without fertilisers, the “world would need an extra five billion cattle grazing 20 billion acres of extra pasture to produce the same number of calories”.

The move comes as chemicals giant Ineos announced plans to invest £640m in shale gas exploration and appraisal in the UK.