What are the geological, environmental and technical risks associated with hydraulic fracturing as a means to extract shale gas in the UK? Can these risks be effectively managed? A new review announced today (Thursday 1 March 2012) by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering will investigate these questions.

Shale gas extraction in the UK: a review of the scientific and engineering evidence will review the scientific and engineering evidence, including levels of uncertainty and potential risks, associated with the extraction of shale gas. The working group for the review comprises:

1 Professor Robert Mair FREng FRS, Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Department of Engineering, Cambridge University (Chair)

2 Professor Michael Bickle FRS, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

3 Dr Dougal Goodman FREng, Chief Executive, The Foundation for Science and Technology

4 Dr John Roberts FREng, Former CEO of Merseyside and North Wales Electricity Board, as well as United Utilities

5 Professor Richard Selley, Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London

6 Professor Zoe Shipton, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Strathclyde

7 Professor Hywel Thomas FREng, Director, Geoenvironmental Research Centre, Cardiff University

8 Professor Paul Younger FREng, Director, Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability, University of Newcastle

Professor Robert Mair FREng FRS, chair of the working group undertaking the review said:

“The extraction of shale gas in the UK has been the subject of recent debate, with many concerned over potential risks associated with the process. We will review the available scientific and engineering evidence to provide a clear indication of where any potential risks are well understood, where there is general agreement but continuing debate, and where more significant uncertainties remain. We will also consider how these risks can be managed.

This review will not be an exhaustive analysis of all the issues associated with shale gas, nor does it promise to make any judgements on the appropriateness or otherwise of shale gas extraction being undertaken.We hope that this review will be a valuable contribution from the scientific and engineering community to a wider debate on the future of shale gas extraction in the UK that should also encompass societal and economic issues.”

The results of the review will be released later in the year.

Notes for editors

  1. The review is being financially supported by the Government Office for Science.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community. For more information see Twitter @RAEngNews
  3. The Royal Society is the UK’s national academy of science. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as a provider of independent scientific advice, as a learned Society, and as a funding agency. Our expertise is embodied in the Fellowship, which is made up of the finest scientists from the UK and beyond. Our goals are to:
    - Invest in future scientific leaders and in innovation
    - Influence policymaking with the best scientific advice
    - Invigorate science and mathematics education
    - Increase access to the best science internationally
    - Inspire an interest in the joy, wonder and excitement of scientific discovery
    For further information please visit  royalsociety.org
    Follow the Royal Society on Twitter at  twitter.com/royalsociety
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For more information please contact

Alice Henchley
Royal Society
Tel: 020 7451 2514
Out of hours: 07931 423323
Email: Alice Henchley

Jane Sutton
The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel: 020 7766 0636
Out of hours: 07784 574857
Email: Jane Sutton