MOSCOW, October 21 (RIA Novosti) – Former head of the British Environment Agency, Lord Chris Smith, has been appointed to lead the Task Force on Shale Gas - a study into the potential environmental and economic impacts of shale gas extraction in the United Kingdom.
"Now is the right time for a fresh examination of the United Kingdom's relationship with shale gas. The decisions we make as a nation in the short-term can have tremendous implications for our long-term energy future," Chris Smith said in a note published on the task force website Tuesday.
According to the website, the Task Force on Shale Gas, which will act "independently and transparently", will be collecting data and evidence from all relevant parties on the potential benefits and risks associated with shale gas exploration and extraction.
A series of reports based on the collected data will be published over the next two years.
Shale gas is extracted using the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, method, which involves pumping chemicals, water and sand at high pressure underground to fracture rock and release the gas trapped in it. Sometimes wells are drilled horizontally, allowing exploration under the land surrounding the drilling site.
Fracking is a highly controversial method, which reportedly leads to hazardous air and water pollution and triggers earthquakes in the regions around shale gas extraction sites.
A number of anti-fracking protests were held across the United Kingdom in August, highlighting the British authorities' disregard for the environment. The protesters were especially concerned by the appointment of pro-fracking lobbyist Sir Phillip Dilley as head of the British Environment Agency.
Dilley, appointed by British Prime Minister David Cameron, is the ex-chairman of Arup, a partner of Cuadrilla, one of the largest shale exploration companies in the United Kingdom.