The Government has rejected shale gas technology as a solution to Britain's energy crisis, conceding it will do little to cut bills or keep the lights on.
Supporters of the fracking technology – which blasts water, sand and chemicals at extreme pressures to release gas trapped deep in rock – argue it could be the single greatest factor in transforming Britain's energy market, reducing our reliance on foreign imports and dramatically reducing costs.
But The Independent on Sunday has learned that industry experts made clear at a meeting attended by senior ministers, including David Cameron and Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy secretary, that the UK's reserves were smaller than first thought and could be uneconomical to extract.
Joss Garman, from Greenpeace, said: "The shale gas bubble has burst. Despite all the hype, even the energy companies now acknowledge shale gas isn't the answer to Britain's energy needs. Ministers are having to face up to the fact that there isn't much of it, it won't bring down bills, and it's damaging to our climate."