Lord Howell says we should frack the "desolate" north east of England
Lord Howell previously said the government should frack the desolate north east of England

A Conservative Peer who suggested fracking should take place in the "desolate" north east has now said it should only be conducted in the "derelict" north to protect Tory votes.

Lord Howell, who is also George Osborne's father-in-law, claims areas such as the north west, north east and "all the places where the Industrial revolution has left the worst historical scars" would welcome the shale gas extraction process.

Writing in the US-based Journal of Energy Security, Howell added it is a "complete waste of time" trying to "bribe" wealthy areas such as the home counties to allow fracking to take place in their area as it will cause longer delays and the Tory party will "lose rural votes on a major scale".

The former government energy policy adviser was criticised last July after calling for fracking to begin in the "desolate" north-east of England instead of "beautiful, natural areas" such as Sussex.

Following the outcry over his comments, Howell travelled to the north east to apologise, adding he actually meant to describe the north west in that way.

Now Howell has described both areas of the north of England as "derelict" as he urges ministers not to begin fracking in the "wrong places".

He wrote: "Trying to start in southern England, and in the home counties, or in rural and countryside areas anywhere, north or south, is a guarantee of longer delays, higher costs and increased hostility from both green left and countryside right.

"Every time Ministers open their mouths to claim that fracking must start everywhere around Britain, and not just in carefully selected and remote (derelict) areas, they lose thousands of Tory votes.

"In the north east, the north west and all the places where the Industrial revolution has left the worst historical scars they do have just such areas, they have the gas and they have the local wish to see fracking investment - to upgrade old coal mining areas, for example."

Howell also criticised the amount of compensation offered to residents in affluent southern and home county areas if fracking takes place near their communities.

He added: "Spending time and money trying to bribe and cajole rural communities is a complete waste, as well as putting backs up and losing rural votes on a major scale.

"Villages and their environs where homes are worth a million will be unimpressed by £100k offers, and by assurances that 'only' two years of heavy truck traffic will disturb them."

Corporate Watch researcher Chris Kitchen said Howell's comments show an "appalling regionalist attitude" and also undermine government and industry spin on fracking.

He added: "Fracking risks polluting our water supplies, it will not solve our energy problems or bring down bills and will only exacerbate climate change.

"We urgently need to reduce energy consumption, develop renewables and move away from all forms of fossil fuel."