UK and Poland announce plans to push fracking across Europe

David Cameron tells Polish Prime Minister that he will cooperate to prevent EU legislation that could slow down fracking industry

Source: Flickr/bisgovuk

Source: Flickr/bisgovuk

By Sophie Yeo

The UK and Poland have pledged to work together against any EU regulation that could threaten the shale gas industry.

Speaking to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on the phone, David Cameron pledged to work with him to ensure a bright future for fracking across Europe.

The conversation comes as the EU works out a climate change package that would regulate the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions until 2030. How the countries choose to produce their energy between now and then will partly determine whether they meet their new targets.

“On shale gas, they (Cameron and Tusk) welcomed the progress made to head off EU legislative proposals and agreed that there should be further co-operation to promote the benefits of shale gas across Europe,” said a Downing Street spokesperson.

He added that they also wanted “to ensure that the European Commission does not place burdens on the industry that prevent countries from realising the sector’s full potential.”

“I am not in favour of new legislation where the lengthy timeframes and significant uncertainty involved are major causes for concern,” Cameron wrote to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in the letter dated December 4.

“The industry in the UK has told us that new EU legislation would immediately delay imminent investment.”

France has a moratorium on the technology, while it is also effectively banned in Germany.

Maps published by the government in December revealed that over 60% of British land could be available for fracking licenses. The Times reported today the UK ministers are considering allowing more of the profits made by the fracking industry to be channelled into the communities where the wells are drilled.

Poland’s Environment Minister Marcin Korolec was sacked halfway through the UN’s annual climate negotiations that he hosted last year, with reports suggesting slow progress on shale development as the main reason for his removal.

His replacement, Maciej Grabowski, was quick to highlight shale gas development as his priority.

In November, he told the Polish newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that he was keen to form coalitions with states such as the UK to fight against EU regulation that could hamper the nascent industry.

“I know what is happening in Brussels, some concern is warranted,” he said. “If there is need we will act in an unambiguous way on many front lines and create coalitions to back our position.”

While the EU is unlikely to dictate how countries should source their energy, the 2030 package will impose a greenhouse gas target binding member states to further emissions reductions.

Today, two committees within the EU voted for a 40% reduction. The White Paper is due to be released on 22 January.

Fracking for oil and gas faces widespread opposition within the UK,  and last summer Cuadrilla was thwarted in its plans to drill for oil from shale in southern England.

While gas is cleaner to burn than coal, opponents say that the UK should not lock itself into a new source of fossil fuels at a time when it needs to work on slashing its emissions.

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