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Leading insurance firm backs fracking

A City based insurance firm has backed shale gas extraction, or fracking, following its approval by the government.

According to The Guardian, Neil Smith, chief operating officer of global energy at insurance brokerage Willis, said: “Shale gas is here to stay,” said. “It’s a very cheap form of extraction.”

Thousands of new shale gas wells could be drilled across the UK as ministers are expected to accept the advice of the first official government report into fracking.

It came despite concerns around the safety of fracking in areas of known seismic activity, such as Lancashire where two wells have caused earthquakes which have damaged the integrity of at least one of them.

An energy report from Willis published on Tuesday looked at the risks posed by fracking - from groundwater and soil contamination to earthquakes - and concluded that as long as shale gas companies adhere to industry best practice, the risks can be significantly reduced.

Smith said: “The issues are of a political nature and a lot are born out of ignorance of what the operations are.”

He expects that with more information, and “greater insistence on best practice being adopted” - possibly through legislation - the concerns around fracking will diminish over time.

The US Environmental Protection Agency, however, found in December that fracking could be to blame for groundwater pollution.