All posts by youngbennett

Greenpeace Fracking Law — Petition

Greenpeace is running a petition opposing Govt plans to allow fracking companies to pump whatever they like under people’s property. Worth signing. Even if you don’t own any property.

Greenpeace petition


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.

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.

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.

The tipping point

A YouGov survey finds that UK public support for fracking has fallen below 50%. According to polls, support has been on a downward trend, from 58% in Jan 2012, to 54% Sept 2013 and 53% in January 2014. See report in the Guardian.

A comment below the Guardian story reads: “Falls below 50%? You kidding me? When was it ever above 10% (a completely unsupported statement I know but why not, the mainstream media does the same all the time, oh wait, that is another unsupported statement?).” A helpful reminder not to put so much faith in polls that we neglect the evidence of our eyes and ears. This blog has covered attitude surveys before, and it’s hard to reconcile this new Guardian/YouGov announcement with previous findings that only 27% were in favour…

1,000 times more methane than expected

Up To 1,000 Times More Methane Released At Gas Wells Than EPA Estimates, Study Finds.

“An analysis of a number of hydraulic fracturing sites in southwestern Pennsylvania has found that methane was being released into the atmosphere at 100 to 1,000 times the rate that the Environmental Protection Agency estimated. The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that drilling operations at seven well pads emitted 34 grams of methane per second, on average, much higher than the EPA-estimated 0.04 grams to 0.30 grams of methane per second.”

Report in the Los Angeles Times.