19 Apr 2012

UK fracking report spurs debate

9:15 am on 19 April 2012

A British report on the use of fracking has reignited the debate about the practice in this country.

An independent UK panel has found fracking, which involves pumping water and toxic chemicals into the ground under high pressure to extract oil and gas, caused small earthquakes near Blackpool last year.

The panel says the process can be used, but it is recommending strict conditions.

The Christchurch City Council has banned fracking in the area.

However, the Taranaki Regional Council's director of environment quality, Gary Bedford, says any earthquakes caused by fracking would only be minor.

"In terms of Taranaki," he says, "the seismic signals caused by fracturing get lost in the seismic activity caused by surf breaking on our beaches."

Mr Bedford says findings from the British panel back up other reports compiled in New Zealand.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, is carrying out an official investigation into the practice.

An opponent of the process, Jolyon White, says the issue is what to do with the fluid pumped into the rock to release the gas.