The charity Carbon Leapfrog, which works with a range of top 100 UK law firms on renewable energy projects, has spoken out against the British Government’s backing this week of the shale gas industry.
Developments in shale gas have been a driver behind several firms’ expansion in the UK, notably US-headquartered outfits.
On Wednesday Chancellor George Osborne said the Government was gearing up to back the developing shale gas market and would, “make the tax and planning changes which will put Britain at the forefront of exploiting shale gas”.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change is expected to announce a range of financial benefits aimed at communities where the controversial gas extraction technique known as fracking takes place. The Government is also expected to announce new tax incentives aimed at encouraging investment in shale gas.
The moves, coupled with higher than had been projected reserves of shale gas in the UK, has contributed towards an upsurge in legal market interest in the UK energy sector. In January Houston firm Bracewell & Giuliani kicked off a hiring spree in its London office (15 January 2013) partly because of the shale-related opportunities while last month another Texas firm, Andrews Kurth, hired Ashurst partner Peter Roberts to spearhead its City office (16 May 2013).
Pure Leapfrog COO Clare Hierons described the Government’s move to promote shale as “disappointing”, adding that the emphasis on new energy projects should be on reducing carbon emissions and accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy.
“Shale gas is not a way to get ourselves off the carbon addiction that we have in this country,” said Hierons. “We should be doing more to promote low carbon solutions rather than finding new high carbon ones.”
Earlier this week the latest report from the British Geological Survey (BGS) claimed that UK shale gas resources may be significantly higher than had been previously thought. The BGS survey said there could be 1,300 trillion cubic feet at one site alone, but it is unclear how much could be extracted.
Carbon Leapfrog, which earlier this year merged with climate change charity Pure, aims to channel services donated by leading businesses and organisations into activities that deliver carbon reductions and positive social impact.