A group of intrepid anti-fracking cyclists are travelling across the ‘desolate north’ from Blackpool to Hull to raise awareness of fracking in the UK and to promote sustainable energy alternatives.
Beginning in Blackpool, the ride started at the front line of fracked gas production in the UK and will finish at the country’s only live exploratory drill site. The route will include part of this year’s Tour de France route in Yorkshire and will arrived in York on Thursday. They will arrive in Hull on Saturday to take part in a local anti-fracking march there.
Yorkshire has two contested exploratory drill sites that both appear to be ‘fracking by stealth’. At remote West Newton a protection camp has been bearing witness to test drilling since May. Rathlin, the company responsible, are disingenuously claiming that they don’t intend to frack the site, leading to local confusion. While this may be technically true – they are gathering data to sell on to a third party should gas be discovered – their application to the local council explicitly requests permission for hydraulic fracturing. Community concern and resistance is growing, with the first big community rally last week, but there is an urgent call for more support, particularly with awareness raising.
Up the road at Crawberry Hill a well was drilled last summer under the guise of being purely conventional, but also penetrated the Bowland Shale to take core samples. Rathlin now want to return to continue testing the well, including a mini-frac on the Bowland Shale. A camp has been set up outside the site and the community is getting organised to resist Rathlin’s plans.
Follow their journey on the Tour de Frack Facebook page.
News articles about fracking often focus on perceived benefits and ignore the costs. The vision of an energy-independent Britain, free of the growing problems of overseas fuel dependency, is deeply alluring. However, many people don’t realise than if fracking were to take hold in the UK, the gas wouldn’t all be ‘ours’ to use as we please – it would have to be sold on the open market, just like any other commodity, and would be sold to the highest bidder. Indeed, many other countries such as France are already lining up to buy fracked UK gas if it ever materialises.
Furthermore, as is being increasingly reported in financial newspapers and blogs, problems are emerging with the shale narrative. An article in the Guardian Economics Blog identifies five hidden costs to fracking: economic risk; local environmental cost; global environmental cost; social cost, and opportunity cost. To find out what these are, please read the article by clicking here.
This week Radio 4’s excellent Agree to Differ discussion programme turns its attention to fracking. Agree to Differ is Radio 4’s new discussion programme where the aim is to give listeners a completely new way to understand a controversial issue and to decide where they stand. The programme uses techniques from mediation and conflict resolution to discover what really divides them – and just as important – if there’s anything they can agree on.
Listen to Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, and his guests on BBC iPlayer.
An article in this week’s York Press and Gazette & Herald discusses the relative impacts of fracking v solar or wind farms. Professor David McKay, the Government’s former chief scientific advisor, claims that fracking would not be as visually intrusive as a wind farm.
Richard Lane, from York and Ryedale Friends of the Earth group, said: “Visual intrusion is certainly one of fracking’s lesser crimes. Prof McKay chose not to include in his blog post any estimates of the pollution created by each source – particularly the enormous amount of polluted water which is generated by fracking and will then require disposal, or the likely global warming impact of “fugitive” methane emissions.”
Frack Free Ryedale also adds that Prof McKay neglected to mention other the reasons why wind and solar farms would be preferable to a fracking site: for example, noise pollution (fracking sites operate 24/7), large numbers of HGV vehicles day and night, the huge quantities of contaminated and radioactive water fracking produces, air pollution and related health problems, destruction of vast areas of countryside (it is estimated that thousands of wells would be required in Yorkshire alone to make fracking viable), the effect on wildlife, and the very real possibility of contaminating our drinking water supply. Not to mention the effects of burning more fossil fuels on climate change. We know which we would prefer …
Read the full article here.
The launch of Frack Free Ryedale has been reported in the local newspaper, the Gazette and Herald. Although the details of how the group came into being are a little wide of the mark (the group was formed by a group of concerned Ryedale residents after they attended local talks in Terrington and Hovingham, and was not set up by Frack Free North Yorkshire, as the article claims), we are delighted to be acknowledged in our local paper and we look forward to making a significant contribution to the debate about fracking in Ryedale and the rest of Yorkshire.
MP Anne McIntosh is quoted in the article as saying, “Safe disposal of water is crucial and the damage it may cause to the environment is unknown.”
Read the full article here.
Breast Cancer UK has called for a moratorium on fracking and warned that the cocktail of chemicals used in the process may increase cancer rates.
The charity points out that many of the chemicals used in fracking are known chemicals of concern and have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. For example, benzene, acrylamide, formaldehyde and ethylene oxide are all used in fracking and are all listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as human carcinogens and have been linked to breast cancer tumours in other studies.
The report concludes: Breast Cancer UK has strong concerns about the potentially adverse health effects of increased exposure to harmful chemicals as a result of fracking. We support our European partners’ calls for a moratorium on all exploration and exploitation licensing in all EU countries [including the UK] and a comprehensive review of EU policies which pertain to fracking.
Find out more by reading the Breast Cancer UK fact sheet.
Third Energy, the same company who is behind the survey in Ryedale, is set to begin working Ebberston Moor in the North York Moors after winning permission to get rid of a vast amount of potentially radioactive waste water – that will come up with the gas – by pumping it back into the ground.
According to documents seen by The Independent on Sunday, the Environment Agency (EA) has been warned that public water supplies could be affected. Yorkshire Water is concerned about the re-injection well which will travel through the rock from which they draw water, called the Corallian limestone aquifer. In submissions to the EA the water company said the water re-injection may “directly affect their asset”.
Russell Scott, of Frack Free Yorkshire, said: “Third Energy intends to inject via mechanical means a total of 5.88 million cubic metres of waste over a nine-year period. Third Energy’s suggestion this process will not have any negative impacts on the integrity of the well casing protecting our drinking water from the injected waste is simply ridiculous.”
Read the full article here.
In this article in the Northern Echo, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, Anne McIntosh, has warned that the full implications of fracking must be investigated before licences for exploration and drilling are given out.
She continued: “People living near any potential site will be concerned about possible subsidence and other adverse consequences.
“These issues must be fully aired and discussed before any fracking exploration or licenses are issued to allay any concerns of local communities.”
Read the full article here.
There was an interesting letter in the Gazette and Herald about the seismic survey, and the lack of transparency in the information that is being given to farmers and landowners about its ultimate purpose.
There are also concerns that TESLA have overstepped the boundaries of the survey.
The letter goes on to say “The government will try to persuade local authorities into granting planning permission for fracking. They will tell us we need the income. However, the long-term destruction of our environment is too high a price to pay – and there are alternatives.”
Read the complete letter here.
OK, so it’s a cartoon. But it is also a pretty good summary.
And it also explains why so much of the government’s own internal report on fracking was blanked out (‘redacted’) before it was released.