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Fracking safe with controls, says report

The gas extraction method known as fracking has been cleared of causing earthquakes and contaminating water when enforced by regulations, according to experts.

The joint report from the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering say the technique is safe if firms follow best practice and rules are enforced.

The report was commissioned by the government’s chief scientist, Sir John Beddington, following the decision last year to halt the UK’s most advanced project, in Lancashire, after fracking caused small earth tremors.

“Our main conclusions are that the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing for shale can can be safely managed provided there is best practice observed and provided it’s enforced through strong regulation,” said the report’s chair, Prof Robert Mair from Cambridge University.

“The UK regulatory system is up to the job for the present very small scale exploration activities, but there would need to be strengthening of the regulators if the government decides to proceed with more shale gas extraction, particularly at the production stage,” he told BBC News.