Scientists from the British Geological Survey (BGS) estimate there may be 40 trillion cubic metres (1,300 trillion cubic feet) of shale gas present in the north of England.

The announcement comes on the same day as the Government uses its long-term infrastructure investment plan to unveil a package of reforms to enable shale gas exploration.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “Shale gas represents an exciting new potential energy resource for the UK, and could play an important part in our energy mix.

“The next step for industry is to establish how much gas is technically and commercially recoverable.

However, the new estimation does not mean that this amount could be extracted for use, but according to DECC the report published today will give industry and regulators an indication of how best to plan future exploratory drilling, so that they can determine how much of the gas would be able to be commercially recovered.

This is expected to be substantially lower than the total amount of gas in place because of technical and commercial limitations on the level of extraction.

Yesterday, during his spending review, the Chancellor George Osborne confirmed his backing for shale gas saying: “Now we make the tax and planning changes which will put Britain at the forefront of exploiting shale gas.

“We will provide our country with the energy of the future at a price we can afford,” he added.

According to Osborne, the changes will facilitate around £100bn of private investment in energy.

Leigh Stringer

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