Large-scale shale gas reserves have recently been discovered under many parts of the UK. Although the UK government and the business community have been very keen to stress the economic benefits associated with the development of these resources, a range of environmental organisations and community groups are vociferously opposed to such development. With this in mind, this research note describes the characteristics of shale oil and hydraulic fracturing, outlines the initial developments within the UK, rehearses some of the principal arguments and claims on the perceived benefits and costs associated with the hydraulic fracturing of gas shale resources and offers a discussion on how the case for and against shale gas development is being made. The discussion suggests that local opposition groups are well organised and have been harnessing information and communication technologies and social media to good effect. Within the shale gas industry, there is a consensus that managing and turning round widespread negative public perceptions about shale gas development will be essential if shale gas resources are to be commercially exploited. Public relations and media companies will have a key role to play in achieving that goal, but they face a range of testing challenges if they are to be successful. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.