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North-east not desolate, says Welby

02 August 2013

SHUTTERSTOCK

"Rugged": the Northumberland coast, with Bamburgh Castle in the background

"Rugged": the Northumberland coast, with Bamburgh Castle in the background

THE Archbishop of Canterbury took to Twitter on Tuesday evening to defend the north-east of England, which was described in the House of Lords as "desolate" during a debate on the extraction of shale gas by fracking.

"North-east England very beautiful, rugged, welcoming, inspiring, historic, advancing, not 'desolate' as was said in House of Lords today," wrote the Archbishop, who was Bishop of Durham for a year before his appointment to Canterbury.

Lord Howell of Guildford, a Conservative peer and former Energy Secretary, suggested during the debate that "there are large, uninhabited and desolate areas, certainly in parts of the north-east, where there is plenty of room for fracking, well away from anybody's residence, and where it could be conducted without any threat to the rural environment."

He was speaking after a question was tabled by Lord Harries of Pentregarth, a former Bishop of Oxford, about the feasibility of pursuing fracking in the face of public resistance. This week, protesters formed a blockade to oppose drilling in Balcombe, West Sussex.

Lord Howell later apologised: "I certainly did not intend to suggest that the north-east is desolate, and I do not believe it to be the case."

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