NFU president calls for fracking debate

NFU leader Peter Kendall has called for a debate on fracking – arguing that the controversial oil-extracting technology looks promising but must not be allowed to damage agriculture.

“We haven’t got an NFU policy on fracking,” Mr Kendall told delegates at an NFU fringe meeting during the Labour Party conference in Brighton on Monday (23 September). “But as farmers we are massive users of energy and we do need to get those costs down.”

Mr Kendall said it was important to look at all potential energy sources in a way that doesn’t damage the environment. “I am not going to tell you that we should embrace fracking but I do think we should give it a damn good look.”

Energy security could be considered alongside food security. “We sit here making a very good case for food security – but are we going to sit here and let other people frack or drill for oil and then buy it off them? Or are we going to try to find safe ways of doing it ourselves?”

Rules and regulations regarding test drilling in the UK were more stringent than in the USA, said Mr Kendall. “We, of course, have [our own] issues. What about scarcity of water? Will that water be taken from farmers who need it for their crops or livestock. We need to have that debate.”

Farmers also needed to understand whether they would be compensated for any disruption or impact caused by fracking or shale gas extraction on their businesses, Mr Kendall said.

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