Fracking is a process for extracting gas from rocks by shattering them with explosives, then maintaining the cracks so caused by injecting them with various chemicals and particles.
It is banned or under moratorium in several countries1, and in the UK is opposed by Greens, Labour, LibDems, but supported by the Conservatives.
PEDL Licenses to allow Fracking along the Somerset coast from Hinkley to Weston super Mare have been granted. Applications to begin exploratory drilling may be made from October 2017.
Why does the Government want to frack?
The short answer may be simply that the Tory Party has been given £400,000 by fossil fuel companies 2.
The longer answer the is that the Government argues that gas can replace coal, with less impact on the planet’s temperature, and is therefore a bridge to renewable energy. But gas is best used to correct fluctuations in supply of electricity, as the output of gas fired power stations can be varied rapidly, unlike coal, which cannot be turned up and down quickly. The leakage of methane into the air from fracking also means that it is on a par with coal in terms of global warming.
Government depends on the Mackay-Stone Review that has been criticised for inadequate “Inventory Data” methodology, which underestimates leakage of methane from fracking sites by a factor of between 2 and 9 3 4.
It has been claimed that fracking will bring the price of energy down. This is not the case5 6.
Unconventional gas is very limited, able to supply UK needs for only an estimated 2-7 years 7, but nobody really knows.
Biogas, produced from anaerobically digesting organic products like food, vegetable waste and sewage, can last as long as our technological civilisation lasts. It is a far better source of gas than fracking.
The Case Against Fracking
Adverse Local Effects
Contamination of water supplies by methane and chemicals8 9
Air pollution by methane and chemicals10
Health effects are categorised in a significant body of evidence 11
Earthquakes may result. Note that Hinkley Nuclear Power Station is in a PEDL zone12
High demand for water 13
24/7 noise and light from the fracking works
Increases in heavy traffic to and from fracking sites
Physical footprint (industrialisation of the countryside) – Water ponds, roads etc
Lower property prices in areas affected by fracking are most likely
Overriding of planning laws by the Conservative Government 15
Undue influence on Local Authorities from corporate advisors 16
Compulsory purchase of land if landowners will not agree to drilling on their land 17
Danger of heavy handed policing and limitation of the right to protest
Adverse Global Effects
If the Government is allowed to go for fracking, they will be weakening international efforts to limit global warming. This will lead to worsening of global warming, which means that both now and in the future, heatwaves, floods, crop failures, sea level rise, species extinctions, and migration will steadily get worse.
The UK must abandon fracking and instead invest in energy conservation, renewable energy (especially biogas) and energy storage.
1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing_by_country (retrieved 08/06/2017)
8https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_additives_for_hydraulic_fracturing (retrieved 08/06/2017)