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Cheaper energy bills for those living next to fracking sites

The Department of Energy and Climate change is expected to soon announce the publication of a report setting a new milestone in the heated debate over fracking. The report will include a section on the benefits shale-gas extraction could bring to people living near fracking sites, such as cheaper access to energy and better local services, like sporting facilities or community centres.

As part of a plan to expand shale gas extraction and unearth previously inaccessible natural gas reserves - assets that are currently said to be much vaster than expected - Chancellor George Osborne has also announced last month a ‘generous new tax regime’ to boost investment in the sector.

But there must be a catch, right? What is the actual downside of fracking? After all, there must be a reason why, even if now allowed in the UK, this extraction technique is still banned in other countries, such as France.

Environmentalists say that hydraulic fracturing is dangerous and it could cause significant environmental damages. To corroborate the theory, needs to be pointed out that in 2011, two relatively minor quakes hit the Blackpool area, where the only active fracking site in UK is located. The private company responsible for the drilling has admitted that the high pressure water injected into the earth was to blame, however, experts have established that fracking-related tremors are not big enough to damage buildings or injure people.

Nevertheless, many are claiming that communities will be still significantly affected by other fracking-related issues. As dozens of test locations are granted permissions to drill, negative side effects have already been reported, ranging from water pollution to methane leaks in the air and radioactive contamination.

In addition, even if in the US shale gas extraction has proved crucial in reducing household energy bills, a similar dramatic fall in prices is not expected to happen in Europe beacuse of differences in regulations, geology and technological uncertainties.

At the present two new wells between Manchester and Liverpool have received the go-ahead, while different locations in Surrey and Sussex are under consideration.

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