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Fracking is safe and should go ahead, insists professor

A shale gas fracking expert has dismissed calls for a suspension of the activity despite warnings from water bodies.

Professor Robert Mair, head of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Cambridge, insisted fracking should be allowed to continue under strictly controlled ­conditions.

His comments come after Water UK and the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management spoke of concerns about potential contamination from fracking of shale gas.

Independent consulting engineer Andrew Wood wrote to NCE last week saying the ICE “should support a moratorium on drilling”.

But Mair - who chaired the creation of a report published last year by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, titled Shale Gas Extraction in the UK: a Review of Hydraulic Fracturing - dismissed the plea.

“[The report] concluded that the environmental, health and safety risks can be managed effectively, provided operational best practices are implemented and enforced through robust regulation,” he writes in a letter to NCE.

Mair added: “Proceeding cautiously with a strong regulatory framework, robust environmental risk assessments and comprehensive monitoring regimes is a more constructive way forward than a moratorium.”

Energy secretary Ed Davey lifted a ban on fracking in late 2012. The activity was blamed for two tremors in Lancashire in 2011.

A report by Durham University this April said the hydraulic fracturing process used to extract shale gas was “not significant” in causing earthquakes.

But Water UK said in July that water companies’ main concern about fracking was that the process could cause contamination of the drinking water aquifers that overlie shale gas reserves.

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