Fracking is rearing its head with a more imposing stature as the Government seem to want to thrust the process upon us, and reduce the due diligence that we should be having more of, not less. I am not necessarily completely against fracking per se, but we do not know enough about it, and I feel the models being used should be ringing alarm bells and encouraging much caution.
Many people do not necessarily understand the detail of fracking (Hydraulic Fracturing) process, and it does take some research and reading to get a grip of the uncertainty around it.
In essence, there is shale gas stored in rock in many small pockets as opposed to very large oil reservoirs that we are traditionally used to hearing about. To get to this, a fluid is injected at high pressure to fracture the rock and release the gas to be collected. It is estimated that in the UK that there could be 1,800-13,000 billion cubic meters of Shale Gas, based on the outputs of the USA.
However, as usual, the devil is in the detail. Many people are led to believe that the fluid used is simply water, but this isn’t the case, it’s a Hydraulic fluid, which is water mixed with chemicals. The bad part of this is that many of the drilling companies mask the composition of their hydraulic fluid, maintaining that its company specific information.
The second issue is the issue of that rock fracturing process can make land unstable, with concerns highlighted when Blackpool sustained 2 earthquakes, which Cuadrilla (the company who was testing fracking in the area) admitted it was down to their processes.
In essence, I think that much is being put on the outcome of the USA, where they have seen great results. But why is that? A lot of the area being fracked is uninhabited, therefore affecting fewer people. Add onto that, in the USA, the person who owns the land, owns the oil, so making it popular, this isn’t the case in the UK, as all reserves are owned by the crown and therefore its the crown who sells the rights.
Going back to the unknown fracking fluid, we have lots of farm land and forest areas, not to mention a fabulous amount of biodiversity in the Forest, what happens when the unknown chemicals gets into the water table, quite simply we just don’t know. What happens further when farm animals drink the water, eat the grass? We don’t know.
A House of Commons briefing paper on fracking states that “The consensus seems to be that shale gas will not be a ‘game changer’ in the UK as in the US.” So why risk our “Green and Pleasant Land”?
Simply, the technology is too new, the benefits marginal, the unknowns too many and the risk too high. This drive to develop more fossil fuels could be better spent on alternative and sustainable power generation.
I am very interested in hearing your thoughts on this issue, please comment 🙂