Friday, 27 May 2011

Shale gas gets support from UK MPs

Source - The Guardian Monday 23rd May 2011 - article by Environment Correspondent Fiona Harvey.

Shale gas drilling in the UK has been given the go-ahead by MPs in a new report looking at the impact it could have on water supplies, energy security and energy emissions.  They have rejected the idea of any kind of moratorium.
Snippets -
'The inquiry found no evidence (!) that the hydraulic fracturing process involved in shale gas extraction known as 'fracking' poses a direct risk to underground water aquifers provided the drilling well was constructed properly. They also concluded that a moratorium in the UK is not justified (!) or necessary at present'. So, what price public consultation?

'MPs urge the DECC (Dept. of Energy & Climate Change) to monitor drilling activity extremely closely in its early stages in order to assess its impact on air and water quality'.  And just how likely is this in a climate of extreme cost cutting?

'Onshore shale gas reserves in the UK could be quite considerable and will certainly help us increase our energy capacity - though not, unfortunately very dramatically'.  So, to hell with the risk

'The emergence of shale gas increases the urgency of bringing carbon capture and storage technology to the market and making it work for gas as well as coal'.  Still in the early stages of development, so in the meantime, let's get on with fracking up the countryside. See TV quote below.

'Greenhouse gas emissions from gas are lower than coal (highly debatable see: light-into-a-dark-closet/ ) but are still much higher than many low-carbon technologies - like nuclear, solar or wind power'.

TIM YEO MP (email: or via website

As Tim sees it:

'There are no unacceptable risks'.

'It is understandable that environmentalists have concerns about methane emissions from shale gas after YouTube videos from the US (methinks he means the award winning film Gaslands) apparently showed people setting fire to their tap water'.

'But if it has a downward effect on gas prices it could divert much needed investment away from lower carbon technologies like solar, wind, wave or tidal power'.  (Yes, Tim.)

'There has been a lot of hot air (!) recently about the dangers of shale gas drilling, but our inquiry found no evidence to support the main concern - that UK water supplies would be put at risk'.  Main concern for whom Tim?  What about the horrendous logistics (earth and water movement by road), 30-50m high derricks illuminated 24/7 and landscape desecration, not to mention concerns relating to all the chemicals deployed.

'But it is still unclear when, or indeed if, Carbon Capture Storage will become technologically and commercially viable'.  Indeed it is, so why proceed with yet another fossil fuel ahead of its development ?

'Onshore shale gas reserves in the UK could be quite considerable and will certainly help us to increase our energy security - though not, unfortunately, very dramatically'.  So the acknowledged risks (US, Canada, Germany, Australia have all experienced serious problems) are still worth taking then?

'The Government's regulatory agencies must of course be vigilant and monitor drilling closely to ensure that air and water quality is not affected'.  (Yes Tim, and at a time of swingeing cuts to public services/agencies we can surely rely upon that.)

If you are concerned for the remaining areas of outstanding natural beauty in the UK and are already horrified by the prospect of shale gas exploration as a result of what you have read on this site, at meetings here in France and in the media generally, then we urge you to contact Mr Yeo (and your own MP if you retain a vote in the UK) and let him know how you feel - without delay.  The current 'trick' is to push the whole concept 'up North', and by styling the location of current activities 'Blackpool' the industry is concealing the fact that it is the area of wild moorland known as the Trough of Bowland which is actually under threat.  The Weald and areas of S.Glamorgan are also believed to be threatened.  Where next?

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