Lancashire – the new centre of UK Gas Fracking?
Despite widespread protests, fracking is on track to become a key part of the UK’s energy plans, with supporters claiming that it will provide cheaper gas, and that it is less destructive than mining, and less intrusive than wind power. Targeted areas include Kent, Hampshire, North Yorkshire, Scotland and parts of Lancashire. In fact, the Guardian states that BP leaders believe Lancashire could become the fracking capital of Europe.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, grabs the last fossil fuels from inaccessible locations by injecting water, sand, and chemicals into rocks buried deep underground, fracturing them and releasing shale gas from the earth.
Why the protests? Conservationists condemn the practice for the pollution it causes, as well as for the catastrophic consequences it has had for the regions affected. Last spring, one of the first fracking operations in the UK triggered two earthquakes close to Blackpool. In the USA, where shale gas accounts for a quarter of the national gas industry, fracking in the state of Pennsylvania has resulted in low-level radiation and polluted drinking water, with dangerous effects on residents’ health. Invisible Dust is very concerned with the direct effects that environmental pollution already has on our daily lives, and it seems that fracking poses a new threat.
We are also concerned for the consequences for global warming. Recent research shows that burning the Earth’s reserves of natural gas, now temptingly accessible through fracking, would release enough CO2 to raise the planet’s temperature 3C. The switch from coal or petrol to natural gas is not predicted to help stop or slow global warming.
What, then, apart from the money made by certain energy companies, are the benefits of funding fracking instead of research on renewable energy? It seems to us that the focus on fracking merely delays the inevitable switch to clean energy, wasting time and further harming the environment in the process.