David Cameron has insisted the UK should accept fracking, claiming the controversial method of extracting gas will attract “real public support” when the benefits are explained.
The prime minister said the process would not damage the countryside and cause only “very minor change to the landscape”.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Cameron said: “I want all parts of our nation to share in the benefits: north or south, Conservative or Labour.
“If neighbourhoods can really see the benefits – and get proper reassurance about the environment – then I don’t see why fracking shouldn’t get real public support.”
The prime minister’s intervention follows comments from former government adviser Lord Howell of Guildford, the father-in-law of the chancellor, George Osborne, who suggested fracking should be confined to “desolate” areas of northern England.
Fracking has transformed the energy market in the United States, cutting costs for households and businesses, and ministers hope for a similar effect in the UK.
Cameron said it had “real potential to drive energy bills down” and insisted the government was not “turning our back” on low carbon generation but needed to secure a mix of energy sources.
“If we don’t back this technology, we will miss a massive opportunity to help families with their bills and make our country more competitive.
“Even if we only see a fraction of the impact shale gas has had in America, we can expect to see lower energy prices in this country.”