U.K. opens more than half of country to drilling, goes ‘all out for shale’ – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – July 29, 2014)
The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.
David Cameron’s long and risky campaign to unleash a shale gas revolution in Britain finally met with success on Monday, when government ministers opened up more than half the country to drilling.
The prime minister and his top deputies had been promoting shale gas for years, declaring that his government is “going all out for shale” as a way to reverse the country’s dependency on imported fuels, create jobs and bring down, or a least slow the relentless increase, of energy prices.
Lately, the crisis in Ukraine added a geo-political boost to their effort. Russia is the top supplier of gas to Europe and much of that gas travels through Ukrainian pipelines.
But the drilling approval has come with severe restrictions that deprived Mr. Cameron of total victory. Drilling in national parks and “areas of outstanding natural beauty” will only be allowed in “exceptional circumstances,” government guidelines dictated. Those circumstances were not immediately clear.
A spokeswoman for the department of communities and local government, publisher of the new drilling guidelines, said “defining exceptional circumstances is not an easy thing to do. It all depends on local communities and local conditions.” Read the rest of this entry »