Dr Cornelius, who recently left Caudrilla, told the BBC that he had plans in place to ‘frack’ the Irish sea through his new venture Nebula Resources.

Cornelius said he is confident that there are huge volumes of shale gas that could potentially be extracted and utilised.

Last month, the Department for Energy and Climate Change awarded three licences to Cornelius’ new firm Nebula Resources to begin fracking in the Irish Sea.

“Certainly offshore shale gas is a new concept, and there’s no reason with the UK’s history of offshore development that we can’t develop these resources offshore,” he told the BBC.

The Government has claimed that there is substantial evidence that UK offshore unconventional gas resources could dwarf the potential onshore supplies.

However, Ed Davey said in September 2013 that he backed the exploration of shale gas but expressed caution, claiming it will not “come close to solving even our basic energy resource security challenge”.

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said the country needs to be “cautious about hyperbole on shale”.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, received heavy criticism from environmental groups and the public last year, with protests being carried out to oppose potential drilling sites.

Commenting on plans to ‘frack’ the Irish sea, British Geological Survey’s Seismic/Basin Analyst Nigel Smith told edie: “I’m delighted a company has taken the plunge but the challenges to extract will be as immense as the potential rewards.

“However, I think the British public will be happier, or disinterested, with such exploration because they have grown accustomed to getting their energy offshore”.

Leigh Stringer

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