Fresh driver for economic growth: fracking the UK nation

© 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose – The purpose of this paper was to examine UK shale gas viability. The recent commitment to shale gas exploration in the UK through fracking has given rise to well-publicised economic benefits and environmental concerns. There is potential for shale gas exploration in different parts of the UK over the next couple of decades. As argued in this study, if it does, it would transform the energy market and provide long-term energy security at affordable cost. Design/methodology/approach – Interviews with senior practitioners and local communities were recorded, transcribed and entered into qualitative research software Nvivo. Validity and reliability were achieved by first assessing the plausibility in terms of already existing knowledge on some of the economic and environmental issues raised by participants. Findings – Findings from this study suggest that environmental, health and safety risks can be managed effectively provided operational best practices are implemented and monitored by the Health and Safety Executive; Department of Energy, Climate Change; and the Mineral Planning Authorities. Participants further suggested that the integration of shale gas technology will protect consumers against rising energy prices and ensure that government does not get exposed to long-term geopolitical risks. Practical implications – The present study corroborates the position that environmental, health and safety risks can be managed effectively provided operational best practices are implemented and monitored by the Health and Safety Executive; Department of Energy, Climate Change; and the Mineral Planning Authorities. Social implications – The present study confirms that the government is committed to ensuring that the nation maximises the opportunity that cost-effective shale gas technology presents, not just investment, cheap energy bills and jobs but providing an energy mix that will underpin the UK long-term economic prosperity. Originality/value – The present study corroborates the position that environmental, health and safety risks can be managed effectively provided operational best practices are implemented and monitored by the Health and Safety Executive; Department of Energy, Climate Change; and the Mineral Planning Authorities. As shown in this study, the UK has a very strong regulatory regime compared to USA; therefore, environmental, health and safety risks will be very well managed and unlikely to escalate into the crisis being envisioned.