Frack off!

Alan Dearling offers a few snippets of info on fracking in the UK and how the Conservative government green-light for resuming fracking is likely to unleash local and national protests.

Here in my local Upper Calderdale town, Todmorden in West Yorkshire, the Extinction Rebellion (XR) ‘Change is Now’ bus arrived in the local market area. Talking to a couple of the XR bus crew, they explained that they are on a travelling mission to spread knowledge and information about climate change and the energy crisis. The XR mission is focussing on priming a new ‘rebellion’ in the UK and promoting a Citizens’ Assembly. And crucially, raising opposition around the resumption of ‘fracking’.

In London XR pulled off an audacious publicity ‘performance’ on 7th September. This is the supposed Liz Truss Bus promoting a Citizen’s Assembly. Very British humour, methinks! As XR announced on their Twitter site:

“The bus is of course not a real campaign bus for the new PM. It is a hoax bus from Extinction Rebellion, launched as part of the September Rebellion, starting at Marble Arch on Saturday September 10th, 10am.  After holding the bus for nearly 4 hours, the police gave the driver a ticket for an “unsafe carpet” on the stairwell before letting them continue on their tour. Dare we say that it looks a bit like Liz Truss is scared of a bus with better ideas on it than her own!”

So, is ‘fracking’ the UK government’s silver bullet to solve the cost of living and energy crisis? Or, is it a major health and environmental risk?

Here’s the definition of ‘fracking’ from ‘Deutsche Welle (DW)’ a major broadcaster in Germany:

“Fracking is a procedure to extract shale oil and gas from underground by blasting bedrock formations with a mixture of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure to create fractures through which petroleum and gas can flow.

Many environmentalists argue that the method pollutes water supplies, harms fauna and flora and can trigger earthquakes, as well as advancing global warming.”

And, this is a summary of the issues around resumption of fracking in England from a current report by ‘Reuters’:

“Lifting the moratorium will help the shale industry unlock UK onshore natural gas in quantities sufficient to meet the UK’s needs for decades to come,”  Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said.

Chemicals and energy giant INEOS, which holds several British shale gas exploration licences, said the government should treat shale gas development as ‘a national infrastructure priority’.

Experts say restarting the industry will do nothing to ease energy prices this winter, however, since it would take many years for an industry to develop and it remains unclear whether a significant amount of gas could be extracted.

New Prime Minister Liz Truss said earlier this month that fracking – extracting shale gas from rocks by breaking them up – would be allowed where it was supported by communities.

Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said on Thursday all sources of energy needed to be explored to increase domestic production, ‘so it’s right that we’ve lifted the pause to realise any potential sources of domestic gas.’

Fracking, which has been opposed by environmental groups and some local communities, was banned after the industry regulator said it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes it might trigger.

Rees-Mogg, however, said the practice was ‘safe’, and the limits on seismic activity should be re-assessed so it could take place in an ‘effective and efficient way’.

Cuadrilla, 96% owned by Australia’s AJ Lucas (AJL.AX), had the most advanced fracking wells in Britain and found a natural gas resource, but the rules around earth tremors meant its operations had to keep halting, meaning that neither of its two wells could be fully flow-tested.

‘Even if the risks proved to be manageable and acceptable, shale gas would only make a significant impact to UK supply if, over the next decade, thousands of successful wells were to be drilled,’ said Andrew Aplin, Honorary Professor at Durham University.”

It’s fairly obvious that local residents where fracking is likely to be resumed will be somewhere on a scale between ‘concerned’, ‘anxious’ and downright ‘frightened’. It goes beyond Nimby-ism to have a high risk of a seismic event – an earthquake in your own backyard! Relatively nearby to my home, Wakefield, Manchester and Preston, are amongst 151 areas from Sussex and Surrey up to Lancashire and Yorkshire potentially scheduled to resume gas exploration – fracking.

The Friends of the Earth fracking map link:

 Extinction Rebellion:


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