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Fracking good for UK - Cameron
Fracking will be "good for our country", David Cameron said as he blamed a "lack of understanding" about the process for some of the opposition to shale gas.
The Prime Minister said that once wells were up and running later this year there would be more public enthusiasm, and exploiting shale gas reserves could help Europe wean itself off reliance on exports from Russia.
The Ukraine crisis has increased the urgency of European efforts to find alternative sources of energy to reduce the leverage Russia's oil and gas supplies give it across the continent.
Mr Cameron agreed it was "our duty" to be more energy independent, saying it should be a "tier one" political issue.
He acknowledged people had "uncertainties and worries and concerns" about hydraulic fracturing - known as fracking - which involves using high-pressure jets of water to release gas.
But he insisted they would be addressed once people could see functioning shale gas wells in the UK.
Asked whether political opposition at a local level had hampered efforts to exploit the resource he said: " I don't think it's so much nimby MPs, I think it takes time because of people's uncertainties and worries and concerns, we just have to address those.
"But I think one of the best ways of addressing that is to get some shale gas wells up and running so people can go and see them, and you can hear more directly from local people about what it has meant for their communities.
"But it's an interesting question - why has it taken so long in the UK and Europe as compared to the US? We can ponder that or alternatively we can just do what this Government is doing which is to roll up the sleeves, simplify the process, make the permissions easier, getting on with getting some wells moving.
"By the end of this year there should be some unconventional gas wells up and running that we can demonstrate, and I think the enthusiasm for it will grow.
Because I think when I look at a lot of the concerns expressed, I think a lot of them are based on concerns and people worrying about things. But I think when you actually look at them all and go through all the issues, I think there's a really good answer to all the questions.
"So I'm confident we'll win the argument, not least by sort of demonstrating that this is a good technology that will be good for our country."
He added: "I think a lot of people think that the process of fracturing shale goes on forever and ever rather than actually being a process and then you release the gas and then you take the gas off.
"There's a lack of understanding about the nature of what actually happens and how much it has in common with the ways that we extract gas in the world today."
The European Union and the G7 have stepped up efforts to improve energy security in response to Moscow's actions in Ukraine, which had been a "wake-up call".
Mr Cameron said: "I think something positive should come out of this for Europe which is to take a long hard look at its energy resilience, and its energy independence. And I hope it will lead to some really useful work being done.
"Completing the energy single market, making sure there are better interconnectors, making sure there are two-way flows of gas, better storage. This is really good work that's going to be done."
He added: " Britain is not reliant on Russian gas to any extent, it's just a few percentage points of our gas intake. But the variety around Europe is very, very wide. Some countries are almost 100% reliant on Russian gas so I think it is something of a wake-up call and I think action will be taken."
In a sign of how shale gas could provide a boost to the energy independence of eastern Europe, Mr Cameron said: " If you look at a map of where the unconventional gas is in Europe I think its quite striking that as well as there being a good amount in the UK there's quite a lot in south-east Europe and potentially in Poland and the Baltic states as well.
"So I think its a good opportunity. Energy independence, using all these different sources of energy, should be a tier one political issue from now on, rather than tier five."