Fracking should be carried out in the north-east because it is full of "desolate areas" George Osborne's father-in-law has said.
Tory peer David Howell, whose daughter Frances is married to the chancellor, prompted shocked fellow lords when he said there was "plenty of room" for fracking in the area.
"There obviously are, in beautiful natural areas, worries about not just the drilling and the fracking – which I think are exaggerated – but about the trucks, the delivery, the roads and the disturbance," he said.
"But there are large and uninhabited and desolate areas, certainly in part of the porth-east, where there’s plenty of room for fracking."
Howell, who served as Margaret Thatcher's energy secretary, quickly apologised.
"I apologise for any offence caused," he said in a statement.
"[I] certainly did not intend to suggest that the North-east is desolate."
He admitted in the statement that there were also areas in the south which were less populated than others.
Anti-fracking demonstrators clashed with police near Balcombe, West Sussex, earlier this week.