The long expected announcement that the government will allow fracking companies to continue attempts at exploitation of unconventional gas is the start of a major battle over what sort of world which we will leave to our children.
In the last year and a half, a growing number of communities have begun organising to oppose fracking. Those communities can now clearly see that if they do not win this fight they will be sacrificed for the profits of a few greedy corporations.
The governments strategy of relying on fracking to fuel a new wave power stations is utterly insane. Fracking is dirty, destructive and extremely expensive, and could never deliver the quantities of gas envisaged.
If these schemes are allowed to go ahead we are looking at tens of thousands of wells, coating thousands of square miles of the country in dangerous, leaking, toxic industrial infrastructure (well pads, pipelines, compressor stations etc.).
This would be a radical degradation of our way of life, which would threaten our communities, countryside and children’s futures. Wherever they live everyone should be extremely concerned about how their environment, and even food supply, could be affected.
The evidence from the US and Australia, that fracking destroys water supplies, air quality, ecosystems, and people’s health has been mounting for years, and is now too strong to ignore. Waiting for even more impacts to be discovered is not an option.
Globally, we can afford to burn considerably less than half of known fossil fuel reserves and still have a livable planet. Any exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels would put us on a path to truly catastrophic climate change.
If we do not take a stand now, fracking will pave the way to far worse. The government is already selling licences for underground coal gasification (UCG), literally setting fire to coal underground to extract energy. This planned close to major cities including London, Swansea, Liverpool, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
The industry’s promises of cheap, abundant gas are deluded. In the US the bubble has burst already: fracking companies are on the verge of bankruptcy, drilling has ground to a halt and prices are rising.
In the next year the main battles are likely to be in Scotland and Lancashire, but many other areas of the country, including South Wales, Somerset and Sussex are under threat. The government has plans to sell of half the country to fracking companies next year.
Dart Energy has submitted a planning application for 14 sites, with 22 wells and 20 km of pipelines near Airth and Cuadrilla Resources want to restart fracking in Lancashire. There have been hundreds objections to these planning applications.