On Sunday 13th May, members of various sustainability groups in Somerset came together over a convivial lunch in Frome to form a coalition aimed at coordinating county-wide opposition to hydraulic fracturing, an extreme energy source, which involves drilling deep into the ground to extract shale gas.
Despite the fact that ‘fracking’ has caused two earthquakes near Blackpool and that it uses nearly 600 different toxic chemicals and contaminates vast amounts of water, this controversial technology has recently been given the green-light by the government, and licences have been granted to fracking companies in the Mendip area.
Six members of Frome Anti-fracking, a sub-group of Sustainable Frome, met with representatives from groups in Glastonbury, Keynsham and Wedmore to share their concerns. Everyone present had seen screenings of ‘Gasland’, an award-winning film, which exposes the terrible consequences of this technology in the US, where fracking has already been developed. The film documents how American citizens in the vicinity of drill sites suffer from dangerous levels of escaping gas and polluted drinking water, which adversely effects their health and their livestock, and also harms wildlife.
Despite the fact that environmental laws appear more stringent in the UK, the film has raised fears about companies proposing to frack locally. Around half of the toxic water remains underground, potentially contaminating ground water, and there has been no adequate explanation for how polluted waste water pumped back out will be safely disposed. Additionally it has been shown that burning shale gas will dangerously increase global warming.
Anyone interested in seeing an abridged version of ‘Gasland’ may like to attend a free screening being organized by The Co-operative on 29th May from 6.30pm in the Tea Room at the Assembly Rooms, Bath. The screening will be followed by an open discussion about what shale gas and fracking mean for the South West.
People may also like to explore the new Frack Free Somerset website, which raises awareness of the threats posed by this technology, and aims to encourage positive energy solutions. These can range from improving energy efficiency and insulation within people’s homes to the growing wave of community-scale renewable energy schemes, which can be highly empowering for local people, and are much more environmentally friendly. For more details please visit: www.frackfreesomerset.org
Helen Moore is the press contact for Frack Free Somerset:
Tel: 07800 831929