This shale gas thing: drill or not drill? There are reasonable arguments all around the question and the final answer will depend slightly upon what you think particularly important and mostly on how strong or important each of the arguments are.

On the one side we've the various economic arguments: lots of cheap gas right here at home would be a nice thing to have. Keeping the lights and the heating on on those cold winter days when there's no wind would be nice too. On the other hand we've all those environmental arguments. Will we be polluting the groundwater? What about earthquakes?

Now it is possible for each of us to try and wade through each and every of these different arguments and try to come to some sort of conclusion. Or we could make use of those nice people called scientists to wade through them all for us. We'd need to read and consider their conclusions, sure, but we don't have to do all the digging ourselves.

And we're in luck for here is just such a report [3]. OK, so it's about the US but the gas is the same, the basic geology is the same and the techniques are all the same. The conclusion is that yes, of course, there are possible environmental dangers. But given that they're easily controllable by basic safety measures we should get on with the drill baby drill bit.

The benefits of large amounts of locally available and relatively low carbon, and above all cheap, energy are simply so much higher than the risks that it's pretty much a no brainer.

And we in the UK have a further consideration of course. If it all goes wrong in the test case, well, it's only Lancashire, isn't it?