Chancellor starts ‘dash for gas’

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The Chancellor has fired the starting on Lancashire’s shale gas industry - but did not give the green light for ‘fracking’ to resume.

George Osborne confirmed plans to create an Office for Unconventional Gas which he said would create “safe but simple” regulation for controversial hydraulic fracturing, which is being pioneered in Lancashire.

Chancellor George Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement on Wednesday

Chancellor George Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement on Wednesday

He also confirmed consultation on tax breaks to support the industry would continue

But, the Government has failed to make an announcement on whether it will allow the process, known as ‘fracking’, to resume after an 18-month delay which followed two earthquakes on the Fylde coast.

It is understood the decision will be announced by Energy Secretary Ed Davey upon his return from a climate change summit in Doha.

In his Autumn Statement on Wednesday, Mr Osborne said: “We are consulting on new tax incentives for shale gas and announcing the creation of a single Office for Unconventional Gas so that regulation is safe but simple.

“We don’t want British families and businesses to be left behind as gas prices tumble on the other side of the Atlantic.”

In response, Fylde MP Mark Menzies, whose constituency is the focus of exploration work by energy firm Cuadrilla Resources, said he was “extremely pleased” the Government planned to set up a body to oversee shale gas.

Cuadrilla has exploration wells at Banks, near Hesketh Bank and Westby, Singleton and Weeton on the Fylde.

Mr Menzies said: “I have been championing this proposal for some time and I feel this is vital to achieving the world-leading standard of regulation which the people of Fylde will want to see if gas extraction is to go ahead.

“The body, I hope, will now work with the existing regulators, the industry and, most importantly, local residents to ensure that, if further fracking does go ahead, it will be done safely, securely and with the upmost sensitivity to the environment.”