The UK government recently lifted its moratorium on the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which pumps fluids into a well to recover natural gas from shale rock. However, fracking has been linked to some minor earthquakes and concerns are growing over its possible environmental impact. The BBC news website publishes the views of a number of experts on the risks and benefits.

Prof. Richard Davies, director of the Durham Energy Institute, says his research shows the highly publicised fear of a link between fracking and contamination of water supplies is unproven; the key issue is the long-term integrity of the boreholes, a priority for shale gas companies and regulators.

Monica Cristina, spokesperson for Shale Gas Europe, observes that the UK has conducted a thorough review of fracking and there is substantial scientific evidence supporting the government’s decision to lift its ban, which also offers huge potential benefits for employment and the economy.

Meanwhile, Helen Rimmer, Friends of the Earth, believes the go-ahead for fracking is alarming, given high risks of water contamination and air pollution, and the huge quantities of water used by the technique. She urges investment in clean energy from the wind, waves and sun rather than a continued focus on gas.

Kevin Anderson, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, notes that shale gas is a high-carbon fuel and cannot be a transition fuel to a low-carbon future.