Norfolk could benefit from fracking, energy industry leader claims

Simon Gray. Photo: Bill Smith Simon Gray. Photo: Bill Smith

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
1:42 PM

Norfolk’s energy industry is perfectly placed to reap the economic rewards of onshore fracking, an industry leader has said.

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Simon Gray, chief executive of the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR), believes the region has the services to support shale gas exploration across the UK – thanks to its 40 years of experience fracking in the Southern North Sea.

But Mr Gray cast doubt on the controversial process happening in East Anglia, amid claims that it would be too expensive for companies to extract shale gas from the reserves in north Norfolk.

It comes as ministers said fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) and the Broads should be refused other than in “exceptional circumstances and in the public interest”.

The policy was unveiled as the latest bidding process for shale companies seeking licences to explore for oil and gas was opened.

Mr Gray said: “Because of the very nature of the Southern North Sea (SNS) gas basin, the industry in the east has been using fracking for 30 to 40 years – fracking has only hit the headlines again recently.

“There are the skills and the experience in the region that has all been utilised in the SNS already. It is different from onshore, but the opportunities are there.”

Environmentalists have branded the government’s new rules around fracking as a “sham” that creates a giant loophole that could allow fracking in protected areas.

In the guidance, planners are told to put great weight on conserving the scenic beauty and landscapes of national parks, AONBs and the Broads.

If an “unconventional” oil or gas exploration scheme represents a “major development” it should refused unless there are exceptional circumstances and it is in the public interest.

Mr Gray added: “Everything we have heard suggests that shale gas reserves are lower here than in other parts of the country,

“The chances of fracking happening are small because it is an expensive process that is not economically viable in Norfolk.”

Planners will have to consider the need for the development, including national considerations, the cost and scope for developing elsewhere and the detrimental effects on the environment, landscape and recreational opportunities in the area.

Where an application in these areas is refused and the developer launches an appeal, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles will consider whether to make the final decision himself to ensure the policy is being properly applied.

John Packman, chief executive of the Broads Authority, said it was important that Norfolk’s conservation areas remained protected.

He said: “The Broads Authority is not aware of any interest in licences for fracking in the park but welcomes the government’s intention to safeguard the Broads and all national parks to ensure our protected landscapes remain just that – protected.

“All major new infrastructure should need to pass the test of being in exceptional circumstances and in the public interest; fracking is no different.”

Do you have a business story for the Eastern Daily Press? Contact business writer Ben Woods On 01603 772426 or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk

12 comments

  • PaulH-Pray what on earth is an"8 foot pyloon"?a very tall Ukip supporter?Could it possibly be "a certain unsophistication of English" on your part?

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    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

  • If fracking is so safe why is the boss of Exxon Mobil refusing to have it done anywhere near his 100 acre horse ranch?This man Simon Gray appears to be the lead singer of a very bad 70s tribute band,Big Oil and the Frackers.

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    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

  • `Unsophistication of English` rules OK and will continue to do so for 4050 years, at least. That lucky ol` Sun has been rolling along for quite a long time now. Suggest a fracking centre near PH`s rural idyll.

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    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

  • PaulH has Oxymoron of the Month. A `Uniformed Hippie`. Plus the Stanley Unwin Prize for English.

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    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

  • Paul H as one of the self centred "uniformed " people you dismiss so harshly, may I suggest you thoroughly read about fracking. No "argument against it cosmetically" shows how little you know of the subject. Do you think the gas just comes out of a small hole in the ground within a stream of water. I could go on but I feel that you should inform yourself. And do you really believe that the ordinary person will be able to financially benefit from this ? Think again.

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    stormy

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

  • I have an open mind on this but it is a myth that fracking will not cut our fuel bills US style. It will be sold on global markets and we will still be paying the same prices for this gas as from any other source.

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    marty r

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

  • Why do we have to listen to these self centred uniformed people with no concern for this countries energy security and the employment and living standards we need for this country to survive.If this bunch of hippies had their way we not even had the Industrial revolution.There no argument against it cosmetically they obviously prefer a load of 100 ft plus tall windmills to a 8ft pyloon. The earthquake stance is a complete white herring based on a small tremor in Blackpool, these occur every month somewhere in the UK since records began.Fracking has been going on in the last 40 years in the North Sea,with no problems. Fracking is none pollutant, with the only problem being the redistribution of residue waste water. At a conservative estimate it could cut our energy bills by 15%,unlike the so called green solution it is not reliable on intermittent wind and sun variables. At the very least,and yes it is always a chance it could gold standard guarantee this countries energy need for the next 4050 years.Our childrens future and jobs security., Plus I have to say topically less reliant on gas from Russia and you know who.. PS che bramley I have no vested interest in any fracking company and your last expletive shows a certain unsophistication of English..

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    PaulH

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

  • It did seem on map shown on tv that some of the areas available for fracking are on route of HS2. Interesting to see who wins!

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    jennifer jane

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

  • Just as a footnote. "But Mr Gray cast doubt on the controversial process happening in East Anglia" Why has he cast doubt on it ?. It was shown on the news last night on a map that the East of England was not getting any fracking, so stop trying to make yourself look important. Its not working.

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    "V"

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

  • Here we go again. More rubbish from an inexperienced idiot. This was all said on the news last night.

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    "V"

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

  • Only people interested in Fracking are people who have a vested interest in these Companies. Two words for them all. Frack OFF !!

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    che bramley

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

  • We don't want fracking! It's dangerous, creates a lot of pollution along with earth tremors etc. Isn't it time we gave up on oil and gas and just switched to alternatives? Maybe give up modern day technology all together if it comes to it. The fate of the planet is at stake!

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    Lily

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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