While a “game-changer” for China, Poland and the US, shale gas will have less effect in Britain in the near future, said UK energy minister Charles Hendry.

Red tape will hamper the roll-out of shale gas, he told the annual conference of the country’s governing Conservative Party.

Drilling for the gas currently requires too many consents from too many landowners to make it viable on any great scale, he said.

But he described changes in the global conventional gas markets as “extraordinary”.

“We are moving into a new era for gas,” he said. “The global outlook has changed. Pressure of demand following Germany, Italy and Japan pulling out of nuclear has changed the gas landscape.”

He was speaking at an energy debate organised by the Chemical Industries Association, where he tried to reassure industry bosses that major manufacturers would not suffer because of future energy security issues.

“The chemical industry is a critical part of our growth agenda. We have to reinvent out world in this current generation and it is scientists who are going to be in the driving seat,” he said.

He added energy security had to be “at the top of our priorities” because “today, all companies are mobile –no company is too big not to move”, and he did not want to see an exodus of UK engineering and manufacturing firms because of energy issues.

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