TheGuardian: Fracking risk compared to thalidomide and asbestos

Guardian reports that chief scientific advisor to Govt has cited fracking as modern example of a huge public  health risk. Report also quotes an academic report giving concise summary of the energy policy situation in UK:

There is a “clear feasibility of strategies built entirely around energy efficiency and renewable energy”, the report, published earlier this month, says. “Yet one of the main obstacles to this lies in high-profile self-fulfilling assertions to the contrary, including by authoritative policy figures.”

“In energy… the obstacles to less-favoured strategies [such as energy efficiency and renewables] are typically more commercial, institutional and cultural than they are technical. Among the most potent of these political obstructions are claims from partisan interests — such as incumbent nuclear or fossil fuel industries — that there is no alternative to their favoured innovations and policies.”

 

UK Energy Research Centre: Fracking is “hype”, “lacking in evidence”.

The BBC reports that researchers from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) told the BBC promises of lower prices and greater energy security from UK shale gas were “hype” and “lacking in evidence”.

It is very frustrating to keep hearing that shale gas is going to solve our energy problems – there’s no evidence for that whatsoever… it’s hype”, Prof Jim Watson, UKERC research director, told BBC News.

It’s extraordinary that ministers keep making these statements. They clearly want to create a narrative. But we are researchers – we deal in facts, not narratives. And at the moment there is no evidence on how shale gas will develop in the UK.

Shale gas has been completely oversold. Where ministers got this rhetoric from I have absolutely no idea. It’s very misleading for the public.

One might wish that the BBC would provide links to original sources. FFT&W has not so far read the UKERC report, but certainly agrees with the gloss in the article.

Sunday Stall at Lush store

On Sunday we had a stall at the Lush store in Eldon Square, we informed the shoppers of the impending plans to begin Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) extraction along the North East coast.  Despite recent articles in the local press championing this relatively unheard of extraction process none of the people we spoke to had any idea of what is coming.

We were supported by volunteers from the local Greenpeace group, and we received around £50 donations from the charity pot which we will send to National organisation Frack-off, who supplied us with the leaflets on the day.  There is a lot of misinformation being spread about UCG, about its benefits and how green it is, especially as it will first be tried out along our beautiful coastline.

Foregone conclusions in South Downs

Great news that a bid by ‘Celtique Energy’ to frack the South Downs was flatly refused by South Downs National Park Authority. Less good news that the fracking company is indicating it will appeal the decision to Westminster, which has said it will always overrule local objections. Celtique Energy presumably thinks it is a foregone conclusion it will eventually go ahead. Popular protest will prove otherwise.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/11/south-downs-national-park-authority-rejects-shale-drilling-bid

Newcastle City Council Opposes Fracking

UK Fracking map
UK Fracking map

Newcastle City Council passed a motion to oppose fracking on Wednesday, which was proposed by Councillor Chris Bartlett.   The government is currently trying to amend the trespass law, so that fracking companies do not have to ask the permission of home owners before drilling under their properties, this loophole was discovered by Greenpeace and subsequently they created the Wrongmove petition giving everyone the opportunity to oppose the controversial extraction procedure.  

According to a Greenpeace/YouGov poll almost 75% of the public in the UK are opposed to the proposed change in the trespass law and almost 50,000 people have already signed the Greenpeace petition, potentially denying access to fracking companies.

The debate that preceded the vote on the motion was quite lively; firstly a motion amended by Councillor Wendy Taylor of the Liberal Democrats was presented to the councillors, which was not the copy distributed before the meeting.  The amendments proposed to change the motion from one that opposed fracking to one that called for fracking planning policy to include strict enforcement of regulations that safeguard the local environment and monitor any pollution.  The subsequent vote on the amendment was a sign of things to come as it was defeated because of the Labour majority in the chamber, but surprisingly two of the Liberal Democrats abstained from the vote.

The arguments for and against the motion were for a large part from party political lines, with Liberal Democrats presenting an argument built on fear of Moscow and the unstable Middle East, but failing to mention that the UK has the potential to be self-sufficient for the majority of its energy needs if only the renewable option was embraced as much as it is in mainland Europe.  By contrast most of the Labour Councillors were more concerned by the impact of Climate Change and the legacy that we will be leaving future generations, by choosing fossil fuels when other options are becoming more viable.          

The vote on the motion was also along party political lines, with Labour voting for the motion and the Liberal Democrats voting against it.  Newcastle joins a growing number of Councils around the country that have either declared themselves Frack-Free or are opposed to fracking, including the former steel city of Sheffield.

 

 

Newcastle City Council comes out against Fracking

Newcastle City Council has passed a strongly worded motion condemning fracking. Text below. Official record of the motion is on the agenda paper.

==

Motion passed by Newcastle City Council Wednesday 3rd September [Proposed by Councillor Chris Bartlett]

==

This council notes:

 

  • that the Queen’s Speech set out Government plans to modify the trespass laws to give fracking companies rights to drill under private property without permission;
  • a Greenpeace/YouGov poll which found that three-quarters of the public oppose the change in the trespass law;
  • that research conducted at Nottingham University finds that public support for fracking is falling;
  • that the North-East is marked as an area ‘under consideration’ for licensing for shale gas exploitation, and notes the comments by Lord Howell that “there’s plenty of room for fracking” in the “uninhabited and desolate areas” of the North-East, although it also notes that geology and existing coal mine workings mean that the Newcastle area is unlikely to be a site for fracking;
  • that a recent DECC analysis concludes that the likely effect of the UK increasingly switching to methane would be to shift carbon emissions overseas, so that an expansion of fracking in the UK would contribute to a global increase of greenhouse gases, and also notes that leaks of methane from fracking wells could have serious implications for global warming;
  • the council recalls with pride the industrial, cultural and social heritage of coal-mining in the North-East, and recognises that in comparison with this the social and economic benefits of fracking for the region would be negligible at best, as the Government’s own research shows.

 

This council resolves to:

 

  • express its opposition to fracking, and express its belief that the energy resources represented by shale gas should be left in the ground;
  • reaffirm its support for the Council’s strategy Creating a Greener Newcastle and reaffirm its commitment to pursue policies of energy efficiency and support for renewables, with the aim of protecting the most vulnerable people in our city;
  • express its support for Sheffield council’s motion in opposition to fracking, and to other UK councils which have made similar statements
  • develop a planning policy on shale gas fracking, taking account of the views expressed in this motion and all relevant planning considerations
  • write to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to express our opposition to fracking.

Helping to keep the north-east un-fracked