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Royal hint on fracking ban

France’s environment minister says 'non-hazardous' methods of extracting shale gas may prompt rethink

ENVIRONMENT minister Ségolène Royal has hinted that France’s ban on fracking could be lifted in future.

She told Le Parisien that France should maintain its cautious stance on the controversial extraction of shale gas, but added: “I am not dogmatic. If new technologies are not dangerous, why not?”.

Moves to drill wells to explore for shale gas in France were halted after the Sarkozy government banned fracking in 2011,, in a decision upheld by the Constitutional Council two years later.

She said: “Given the uncertainties, France has reason to apply a precautionary principle.

“We do not know if hydraulic fracturing will cause gas to leak into groundwater and contaminate drinking water.”

Ms Royal’s interview appeared in the paper on the same day that media outlets in the UK revealed communities in southern England may receive payouts of £800,000 from the government so that engineers can drill for billions of barrels of shale oil identified by a geological survey.

The British Geological Survey has already suggested there could be enough shale gas in the north of England to supply Britain for 40 years - but its reports out today suggests that several billion barrels of shale oil may be under The South Downs National Park.

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