The controversial fracking site in Lancashire operated by Cuadrilla Resources. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Senior European parliament member says Britain ‘cannot be sure it knows what it is doing’ if it allows controversial gas extraction to go ahead.

Brussels will move to regulate the shale gas industry, a senior member of the European parliament has warned, claiming the UK cannot be sure it knows what it is doing in embarking headlong on a “dash for gas”.Jo Leinen MEP, a member of the parliament’s environment committee, said the UK government could not be confident it understood the scale of health and environmental consequences of “fracking”, in which pressurised water, sand and chemicals are pumped into rocks to force them to release gas.

The chancellor, George Osborne, announced last week that the coalition would offer tax breaks to fracking firms, and intended to set up a new regulator for “unconventional gas”.The energy secretary, Ed Davey, is shortly expected to lift restrictions on fracking at a site in Lancashire where the process was halted when evidence emerged it was triggering earthquakes.

The British Geological Survey is expected to reveal that the amount of shale gas deposited around Blackpool, is 50% bigger than estimated.But Leinan, a member of the German SPD, spoke of the European parliament’s growing concern over large-scale fracking, adding that it would pass new regulations to “manage, to discipline” the sector. He said: “There are basically only two countries where the government is behind using it.

It is Poland and it is Great Britain, and Poland has not gone very fast. Then in Great Britain they give green light for industrial exploitation but they have to know what they are doing. I don’t know if they can be so sure and clear about what they are doing.”