Fracking faces an "uphill struggle" for public acceptability although the process for extracting shale gas could be safe, according to the chairman of a taskforce set up to probe the industry.

Ex-Labour Culture Secretary Lord Chris Smith made the admission as he published a report on fracking's local environment and health impacts.

His group said the controversial method could also be harmless if provisions were in place and regulated to prevent larger earthquakes, water contamination, gas wells leaking and methane pollution.

The task force's second interim report called for full disclosure to the public of the chemicals used in the process, to reassure people it is safe, and independent monitoring and regulation to make sure wells do not leak to prevent water contamination.

It called for baseline monitoring of air, water and ground conditions to begin when a potential site is identified for fracking, rather than waiting for planning permission, and for community representatives to be involved in the process, to reassure local people.

And the report said all gas that comes out of the well should be captured, to protect health as well as preventing greenhouse gas emissions, with no venting of gas to the air, no "fugitive" methane emissions, and only a small amount of flaring - or burning the gas - being allowed where absolutely necessary.

Lord Smith said shale gas extraction "can be done safely if these provisions are firmly in place and rigorously monitored and regulated, but only if that is done can this process be safe".

But he said: "I think there's an uphill struggle here because the public are sceptical.

"The thing I've said from the outset to the industry the two absolutely essential things are complete openness and transparency about what you're doing and full engagement with local communities from the outset."

Moves such as letting local community representatives go on site with the regulators, to witness samples being taken and going to the laboratory to see them being tested, "are the sort of things that have a chance of re-establishing trust", he said.

He criticised the Environment Department (Defra) for publishing a heavily-redacted report on shale gas extraction which, it emerged when the full report was published earlier this month, had all the potential negative impacts of fracking deleted.

"I think all of that reveals how foolish it was to redact it so heavily in the first place."

"Again the lesson of this is full openness and full transparency from the outset. The moment you redact 90% of the report everyone's going to immediately assume you've got things to hide," he said.