Peter Lilley has written an excellent summary of the shale gas debate for the Spectator - the text seems to be outside the Spectator paywall, so it's doubly good.
We will only know for sure how much is there, and can be economically extracted, by drilling. So you might assume governments would be forcing the pace. Far from it. In 2011, the government imposed an 18-month moratorium. Since that ended, Cuadrilla — the only company which has drilled in the UK — has suffered further delays because of bizarre environmental obstacles. Department of Energy and Climate Change ministers have consistently talked down the industry’s prospects. When the British Geological Survey recently dramatically revised up their estimates of Britain’s shale potential, the department’s chiefs allegedly told them to redo the figures — further delaying the publication of their findings until the summer. There is still no date for the next licensing round to open up more acreage for drilling.
Rather amusingly the article has prompted the usual response from Bob Ward. Ever the master of the fallacy of the trivial objection, Ward notes Lilley's error in naming the great Lancastrian shale formation as the Bowman (rather than the Bowland) and declares, on that basis, that the article is "strewn with errors".
This attempt to decry an attempt to kickstart shale gas exploration is very odd because just a few weeks back, Ward was co-author on a Grantham Institute report that called for UK shale's potential to be explored. Ward seems to have been demanding exactly the same thing he now condemns Lilley for wanting.
This makes the Grantham Institute look very, very silly.