KELFF was formed in the Spring of 2014 by a group of activists in order to prevent fracking in the area. Our first task was to take our research in the form of a statement to local Councils with the question ‘Will you keep East Lancashire Frack Free?’
Here is the first version taken to Burnley Borough Council in May 2014:
I am here on behalf of a newly formed group whose name – and aim – is Keep East Lancashire Frack Free. We hope that the facts I shall be presenting to you to help you answer our question will leave no doubt in your mind that unconventional gas exploitation is a ridiculous idea. So why do the UK parliamentary opposition and coalition parties support fracking? The arguments being used to justify fracking are as follows: That it will create jobs; That it’ll bring down energy bills; That it’s good for our energy security.
Firstly: That it will create jobs. A Department for the Environment and Climate Change’s (DECC) report estimated a maximum of 24,300 of them. Yet 400,000 jobs could be created by 2020 by investment in the clean energy sector.
Secondly: That it’ll bring down energy bills like it has in the US. But the UK’s geology is more complex than in the US, which means that the process here will be uneconomic. Even if that weren’t the case, unlike the US, the UK exports gas as part of a European gas market, and as fracking companies will sell to the highest bidder of these European countries, there could never be a guarantee that UK energy users would be the beneficiaries.
Thirdly: That it’s good for our energy security, despite a House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee recommendation that shale gas should not be relied on to contribute to energy security. An energy security expert has said the best way to reduce energy security risks is to promote renewable power generation, improve energy efficiency and reduce overall energy demand.
Finally: The government claims that shale gas is a transition fuel to a green energy economy. Yet the Department for Energy and Climate Change-commissioned report on fracking’s greenhouse gas emissions has been shown to be based on poor data and exaggeration. When the actual figures are factored-in, the report shows that burning shale gas to produce electricity is about as bad as burning coal!
For more background I encourage you to look to the growing evidence for them. The Friends of the Earth website is a good place to start. The arguments against fracking are so numerous that for this question I’m just going to summarise some of them.
The UK’s geology is too complex for fracking to be safe or economic.
The UK’s geography means we don’t have America’s wide open spaces away from the population or agriculture.
Water contamination. The UN has listed seven different ways this can occur.
The huge quantities of water required.
The carcinogenic properties of the chemicals used.
Industrialisation of countryside and loss of agricultural land to roads, well-pads, pipelines, compressor stations and so on.
Traffic/chemical spills/noise and light pollution.
Impact on tourism.
I could’ve gone on.
But even if none of the above applied this doesn’t discount the big one – climate change. A growing number of climate change scientists are recognising that to have any chance of us staying below the two degree increase in global temperature that is required to avoid catastrophic climate change, we have to leave 80% of all already discovered fossil fuels in the ground. So why does this government want to find more of the stuff if we can’t burn it?
Not all governments are hell bent on fracking – far from it. There are bans or moratoriums on fracking in France, Germany, many American states, and at least twelve other countries worldwide.
And there are attractive alternatives, particularly for the UK as we have the best renewable energy resources in Europe. That’s where our energy security is – and the 400,000 jobs to get our economy back on track.
Even if these arguments don’t sway you, look closer to home. A poll last month showed the third consecutive fall in public support for fracking. It indicates that less than half of the UK population now support fracking. Anti-fracking groups are springing up all over the country. There are now over 130 of them. These arguments are swaying people. Resistance to fracking is not going away, and neither are we. A policy of support for fracking is a vote-loser. So our question to you is, quite simply – will you as elected representatives of Burnley say no to fracking and yes to keeping East Lancashire frack free? (4mins 30seconds approx).
We also went to Rossendale BC, Pendle BC, Ribble Valley BC, and tried to go to Hyndburn BC.