Thursday, December 22, 2016

Update on Fracking for Shale Gas in UK

I've given up my practise of always using the term 'hydraulic fracturing' instead of the more perjorative term 'fracking'. I really don't like perjorative terms, coined by opponents, and then adopted by the media as normal. Two other recent examples are "Bedroom Tax" and "Snooper's Charter". Doesnt make any difference of course, apart from very slightly annoying me. And that doesn't count much in the greater scheme of things! Must write about developments involving the Investigatory Powers Act, where I've an instinctive sympathy with opponents.

But back to 'fracking'. Initially, I found it difficult to take a definite view. But after fair bit of consideration became certain that we should establish whether it's viable in the UK to extract the huge amounts of Shale Gas buried deep in the earth beneath our feet. Actually, I'm still not confident that the industry is viable. And that's roughly where I remain, several years later, believing most of the opposition to have been deliberately misleading and in some cases downright untruthful. And it makes little sense to me from the 'climate change' standpoint. But is it viable. We need to know.

Opposition can be loosely grouped under two headings. First we have those opposed to developing a new fossil fuel energy source on principle, believing we should develop only renewables. Yet, the main aim of decarbonisation policy is to stop generating power through burning coal, and the only way to do that is by building new gas fired power stations. And what is the sense of importing the gas to run these new power stations from unstable countries, or importing it from the US, when there's 100 yrs worth under our feet in Britain? What sense does that make as a decarbonisation policy!! When I see tankers of Shale Gas coming into Grangemouth from the US, I just rub my eyes in disbelief at the madness of it.

And then there's the apocalyptic warnings of earthquakes, polluted water supplies and outbreaks of leprosy (sorry, made that last one up). There is nil evidence to support this. I accept that theoretically Shale Gas could leak into the aquifer, but only because of faulty pipework, not fracking. But it matters not to the fracking opponents. It's a subject where rational discussion is pushed aside by a sort of religious fervour.

Anyway, reason I'm commenting today is that this week the High Court ruled that a 'fracking' permit awarded to the drilling company, Third Energy was legal. This is a very significant decision. We now have the first authorised Shale Gas mine in the UK since the moratorium was lifted in 2012. A big step forward has been taken to establish whether Shale Gas is viable in the UK. And that is sensible from a UK economy and a climate change viewpoint.

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