Monday, 17 December 2012

Fracking

Maureen has written a letter about the lifting of the ban in Lancashire and the tax subsidy. She has sent the letter to the Sheffield Star. A copy of it can be found below

To Frack or not to Frack?

Fracking has raised its head above the parapet once more, not only because the ban has been lifted but also the taxpayer is to subsidise it. So once again Cuadrilla will be allowed to Frack rocks in Lancashire near Blackpool. So what is ‘Fracking’?

Fracking (or ‘fracturing’ in full) is the exploration and extraction of coal bed methane, shale oil or shale gas. Hydraulic fracturing uses pressurised fluid to free trapped gas. Wells are drilled and the fracking fluid injected into them under high pressure to crack the rock. This can cause minor earthquakes and requires huge volumes of water. It is thought that the fracking process could potentially introduce harmful chemicals into the water table and therefore into the water supplies for the city and surrounding area.

The government says this could lead to lower gas prices but the fact is that Fracking is an expensive process. There is a glut of gas in the USA at the moment so low prices are leading to Fracking wells shutting down. Gas production in these wells drops off sharply after a few months. After a year, it may be down 75% and after 18 months, it may be down 90%. Refracking or drilling another well will then have to take place to continue supply, incurring greater cost. It is therefore not about having one well in the locality but there are new wells popping up year on year. It is estimated that following the ‘Dash for gas’, which entails generating much of our electricity from gas, will lead to at least a £600 increase in our fuel bills due to carbon tax and increased gas prices.

That aside the global scientific community is in agreement that our current level of greenhouse gas emissions will lead to catastrophic results for every person on the planet. These results are already being seen. The ‘Dash for gas’ can only escalate UK emissions.

Surely the answer to our problem is to invest in renewables, which could impact heavily in Sheffield with its engineering base providing jobs and leading the way in this growing market. The opposition to wind turbines may be solved by community projects where locals profit from the development rather than the large energy companies. While this may involve investment now the rewards in free energy will increase year on year and we won’t be drowning in the mire!

Sheffield could be asked to give licences to companies for the exploration of coal bed methane. Sheffield Climate Alliance has started a petition to make Sheffield a ‘Frack free zone’ which may be found on their website: http://www.sheffieldclimatealliance.net/. I hope you decide to say ‘no’ to Fracking and sign the petition. For more information go to http://frack-off.org.uk

Yours sincerely
Maureen Edwards

Sheffield Friends of the Earth