February 3, 2014 3 Comments
Last summer I made several visits to the anti-fracking protests at Balcombe in Sussex, just a few train stops up from Brighton, where I live. I had only vaguely heard of fracking before, but had smelt a rat as soon as my girlfriend told me a few things about what was going on. Visits to the site were an education, in more ways than one. Apart from anything else, the heavy policing of the protests was extraordinary and unnecessary, since estimated to have cost the taxpayer £3-£4 million. One would have thought that this alone might have made David Cameron’s government question the viability of fracking, particularly in politically conservative areas such as Balcombe, but apparently not.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is extremely dodgy. Irreversible water, soil and air pollution are part of the deal. And burning yet more fossil fuels in a time of climate change targets? Even discounting some of the environmental risks, there are a large number of other reasons for the UK public to be extremely worried. Fracking is a big industrial enterprise that will significantly disrupt communities and countryside if it takes off in the UK. There is obviously something very wrong if Cameron has to resort to bribing local communities and householders. He goes further and claims that opponents of fracking are “irrational”, quite an extraordinary statement to anyone who has taken the trouble to look into the pros and cons in detail. The government insists that there are “clear, robust controls in place” but a recent newspaper article uncovered the fact that the Environment Agency has precisely six full-time staff monitoring fracking. Those who have worked in the industry say that fracking can not be regulated and will therefore never be safe.
Energy expert Paul Stevens has carefully outlined all the issues (including the myth that energy prices will come down) and explained why fracking has conquered America, and why it can’t happen in Britain. Bribing local councils and the public is not the answer, David Cameron. It looks to me like you are in danger of committing political suicide.