After the announcement of plans to fast-track the U.K.'s shale gas industry, the next step should be to realize at least one shale project to prove the project's worth, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation warned.
"The most important step now is to kick-start one shale development so that communities around the country can observe how safe and beneficial fracking is," director Benny Peiser told Anadolu Agency.
On Aug.13, the U.K. government released new measures to help significantly cut waiting periods for shale projects to kick-start the industry and even allow for intervention in approval processes if necessary.
"Shale developers will be encouraged if planning processes are speeded up," Paul Ekins, director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, University College London, said.
In 2007, onshore shale gas production was proposed, and although a number of wells were drilled, no commercial production of shale gas in the U.K. has yet been made.
Peiser stressed the importance of acting fast to realize projects by saying, "unless the government takes urgent action to accelerate shale applications and development, shale companies and investors will reassess their projects in Britain."
There are other shale opportunities around the world and investors looking to finance such projects "will not wait forever for Britain to get its act together and get fracking," he added.
Communities with shale gas developments should also share in the financial returns generated, the government said in its latest announcement.
"It is essential that local communities share the significant economic benefits of shale extraction," Peiser said, and added that the north of England especially would reap huge rewards "once the shale revolution takes off."
"If the sum of money to go to local communities is large enough, some local people might support shale gas development," Ekins commented.
Peiser and Ekins both realize that the decision to accelerate the shale application process will not end all opposition.
Ekins expressed his belief that opposition would continue at local level while Peiser said that the government's announcement would "certainly prevent green campaigners from blockading this vitally important new industry from taking off in the U.K."
By Zeynep Beyza Karabay