When the nimbyism has been dismissed and the quarrels over compensation muted, the shale gas debate comes down to one, simple unanswered question: can the promises of the fracking lobby really be put into practice?
Most of the horror stories seen in the US - flames coming out of taps, dead tree wastelands, contaminated water complaints - are easily written off in Britain. Those desperate to get fracking in the UK simply point to the watchdogs, an easy go-to bogeyman, as an easy group to blame.
Contrast the patchy, disinterested attitude of the American regulators with the British equivalent. At a shale gas industry conference in Manchester earlier this year, the Environment Agency's representative arrived armed with a powerpoint presentation designed to show just how rigorous its supervision of fracking would be. David Forster's flashy presentation briskly worked through a long list of environmental perils posed by fracking. But he promised "detailed technical guidance for operators"Read More »from Who watches the frackers?