Opposition concerned about fracking

Opposition parties have raised concerns about the possible impact of fracking in the Karoo.

A member of Treasure the Karoo Action Group participates in a protest action in front of Parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday, 5 April 2011. The group delivered a document to Tuynhuys against plans by Dutch oil-giant Shell to prospect for gas in the shale rock that lies beneath the Karoo.Picture: Nardus  Engelbrecht/SAPA

CAPE TOWN - Several opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) on Tuesday said they did not trust government's assurances that shale gas exploration in the Karoo would be done responsibly.

The matter was raised in the National Assembly earlier in the day.

In early September, Cabinet announced the lifting of a moratorium on shale gas exploration.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said government was aware of the divisions created by this decision.

"This subject has divided our citizens into two, those for and those against."

She said the potential economic benefits could not be ignored.

But the Democratic Alliance's James Lorimer cynically remarked, "We can't continue to give more money to the already rich."

The Freedom Front Plus and African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said the dangers of fracking did not even warrant exploration.

Applicants are expected to start drilling, but will not engage in the actual act of fracking.

Meanwhile, environmental groups have threatened to take the matter to court.

They are concerned about the impact of fracking on the environment.