Current Situation

Fracking report

This July 2014 report by Scientists for Global Responsibility and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and  concludes:

In this briefing, we have summarised key evidence concerning the environmental, health and wellbeing, and socio-economic aspects of fracking for shale gas in the UK. In particular, we have critically examined some of the most common industry and government claims, drawing extensively on independent academic and expert literature. We have found several areas of concern.

Regulation of the industry in the UK is currently inadequate, although it is stricter than in the US, thus somewhat reducing the potential for local environmental impact by comparison. With technological advances and an improved regulatory environment, groundwater contamination risks could conceivably be reduced to an acceptable level, although there is much to do to reach that point. Furthermore, the requirement for vast quantities of freshwater (expected to become scarcer under climate change), which require road transportation, is unlikely to be resolved. Confidence in the practice is undermined by a series of disingenuous claims made by both the Government and industry.

Virtually all economic analysts refute the claim that fracking will reduce energy bills in the UK. Instead, it will lock us into continued reliance on fossil fuels and the increasingly volatile and expensive international gas market. Although fracking will generate jobs, job leakage is probable, and it may result in job losses in other industries, for example, agriculture and tourism. The job creation potential has been substantially exaggerated, and is also significantly less than that of the low-carbon energy sector, which itself may suffer from diversion of investment to shale gas. Community benefits have also been exaggerated, while the substantial policing costs do not generally feature in the discussion. There is also some evidence of house prices having fallen near fracking sites.

Given that, even without shale gas, proven global reserves of fossil fuels are five times higher than can be burned without risking a 2°C global temperature rise, the exploitation of shale gas is dangerous and unnecessary. It is true that, assuming minimal methane leakage, shale gas might have a lower carbon footprint than coal. However, in the absence of a global cap on emissions, the use of shale gas will undoubtedly be in addition to, not instead of, coal, and will therefore result in an overall increase in emissions. Until such a  constraint on emissions is in place, this problem remains unresolved.

You can read the full report here or download it here.

  1. R W K Gardiner
    August 4, 2014 at 13:47

    I certainly understand people being concerned about uncertain technology but fracking is one sector’s attempt to provide future energy. Sites like this just complain without contribution; it will not invent something to reduce the need for hydrocarbon energy. In fact there are probably few engineers here.

    No matter how useful, wind farms can’t replace hydrocarbons alone. What is needed by the ‘concerned’ supporters of this site and other similar ones is to contribute to something like a chair of fusion energy at a respected university. Hand wringing might provide some energy by friction but not quite enough.

    When the lights go out and the internet goes down, how will this site communicate?

    • Frack Free Ryedale
      August 4, 2014 at 14:48

      Hello Mr / Ms Gardiner,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I certainly apologise if we are coming across as complaining without suggesting alternative solutions.
      This website has been up less than a week, so I agree we don’t have a comprehensive list of all solutions yet, but we completely agree the need to suggest positive solutions as well as simply listing the problems, such as cancer, poisoned water, and falling house prices.

      If you would like to read them, this page gives links to articles that explain how France and Germany (both with larger economies than ours) have taken the decision to ban fracking, and that they can get the energy they need from other sources.

      And this page (source, Daily Telegraph, today) explains how fracking does not make economic sense — it is in fact a ponzi scheme.

      In fact, countries like Germany, China and Denmark are increasingly investing in renewable energy. In early June Germany obtained over half its electricity from renewable sources, and the state of Schleswig Holstein is on track to get 100% of its energy from renewable sources by the end of the year. They are doing very well without fracking.

      In addition, you did not talk about jobs, but this article (also from the Daily Telegraph) raises similar points to yours (about the need to get energy from somewhere) and points out that if we wanted to create jobs, “you’d get far more per unit of energy from insulating buildings.”

      So, I think the case is clear there are alternatives (as other countries are showing). These alternatives create more jobs and create a better economic impact for the country.

      We will be posting more stories like these as soon as we can, because we agree with you that this is very important.

      Thank you for your interest.

    • Frack Free Ryedale
      August 4, 2014 at 15:10

      And coincidentally, here is another article just published, which says much the same thing:
      “The cheapest form of new electricity in Denmark will be onshore wind power when new turbines become operational in 2016, according to a new analysis by the country’s government. The price has been estimated to be about one half of what coal and natural gas cost.”