Craig Mackinlay is the MP for South Thanet.

The potential national benefits of shale gas extraction are now quite clear to those of us looking for a way out of the current energy crisis. The Government, with its new warmth for expansion of North Sea capacity, means it has belatedly recognised that producing gas here in Britain is far preferable to importing it from overseas.

What seems to be playing on ministers’ minds is a concern about noisy local opposition that could put at risk marginal constituencies in the Red Wall. To move ahead, we need to unlock the planning system by ensuring that local people see tangible benefits, and that projects go forward with the consent of local people.

It is easy to bash so-called Nimbyism, but people are quite understandably concerned that the places they have put down roots and the landscapes they cherish are protected. I was alarmed to hear recently that Ministers were considering relaxing the planning rules on onshore wind to try and push turbines through against people’s wishes. The two technologies should both have to gain local consent.

Accurate information about the hydraulic fracturing technique is needed to win people round. Thus far, we have been deluged with a tidal wave of misinformation on the topic. Some people appear to be acting as if this a new-fangled and untested technology, when over a million wells have been drilled in the United States, safely, and while saving consumers huge sums of money on their energy bills.

We should offer our thanks to our American cousins that they progressed down this route: it is US shale gas currently coming to our rescue after decades of collectivised failed energy policy this side of the pond.

Strange myths around the technology persist. Some may have been promoted by Russian propaganda outlets, and it is up to the Government to present the clear evidence which shows that hydraulic fracturing can be done safely. If people are only hearing one side of the story – that being the bogus narrative pushed by extreme environmentalist protestors – then we should not simply accept that, but challenge and refute it. It is utterly defeatist to simply accept this woeful situation; people need reliable information.

A huge advantage of shale gas wells is they actually take up very little space, and in some cases may not even be noticed by people living nearby. Just one shale gas site of about an acre, operating at peak production, could heat up to 500,000 homes. The energy density of gas is in stark contrast to onshore wind, which would need an area many hundreds of times as large to produce the same amount of energy.

There are a number of proposals doing the rounds which I believe would transform the way local communities view the prospect of shale gas extraction. John Redwood, for example, has suggested that local councils and those willing to allow shale where they live could receive royalties from the gas that is extracted. There should be no compulsion.

Andrea Leadsom has proposed that those living near shale gas wells could get free gas. Another idea might be for shale gas developers to pay into ring-fenced community funds that can be spent on improving local services. Any of these options could potentially unlock a fantastic opportunity for the UK. The Government should work with industry and choose a way forward quickly and the Treasury consider innovative revenue sharing solutions that directly benefit communities.

We should also not forget than in addition to any potential direct contributions to local communities, a nascent shale gas industry would also bring high-skilled jobs and investment to the north of England to communities that desperately need them. That’s arguably where the largest benefits are likely to be, and we have seen in America just how transformative the sector has been for parts of that country which had previously been neglected and in decline.

A lifting of the shale gas moratorium also has to involve a review of the incoherently restrictive seismic limits that apply to shale gas but do not apply to other industries. 0.5ML, the existing level at which operations would have to cease, is regarded as imperceptible, and will be regularly exceeded by other sectors such as construction, transport and geothermal energy. It must go if the sector is to function.

Speed is of the essence. The principle of gaining public consent for energy developments does not mean we have to act slowly. The way in which bureaucratic institutions delay vital decisions has an enormous cost across the economy, which we have to recognise, and nowhere is this clearer than in energy. The cost of energy crisis that we are now experiencing must surely be the catalyst to shake us out of a complacent acceptance of dither and delay.

There is absolutely no reason why we can’t have a robust planning system based on public consent that is also able to make decisions quickly. Every second wasted denies people wealth and opportunities, and means we remain poorer for longer, and more people remain in energy poverty. How on earth can that be deemed acceptable?

Nevertheless, I think we are close now to an outbreak of common sense. The Government appears to be listening, agreeing with me and my colleagues in the Net Zero Scrutiny Group that it makes no sense to cement up Britain’s only two viable shale gas wells.

There is an ongoing discussion in Cabinet as to whether the moratorium should be lifted. I urge my ministerial colleagues to be bold, and forge a way forward that means communities can benefit fully from a prospective shale gas industry. The need for that gas is beyond dispute, so we cannot afford to miss this chance.