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Thursday 3 November 2011

The Frack Fracking Well Did It

Anyone in any doubt as to the reason for Cuadrilla Resources’ glowing report on the prospects for shale gas exploration around Blackpool need doubt no longer: the findings of the investigation into two earth tremors near the site of Cuadrilla’s test well – which were found to “have a similar mechanism” – have been released. And the conclusion points at that well as the source of the shakes.

Small wonder, then, that Cuadrilla suggested that the reserves of gas could be on such a huge scale: that would help move public opinion outside the north west – in other words, those whose lives would remain unaffected by the earthquakes, but who would like the prospect of cheap energy – in their favour. It’s a cheap and blatant ploy. But some pundits have bought it uncritically.

What now? Well, what won’t be happening is Cuadrilla getting carte blanche to sink dozens more wells deep into shale beneath Lancashire. The tremors may have been comparatively small – around level 2 – but turning the test well into a productive field would mean scaling up well numbers, and potentially scaling up the number and strength of earthquakes too.

The opposition to continuing hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – will be heard: those living near to the proposed wells and the surrounding area are unlikely to be agnostic on the prospect of more seismic activity, and protests are certain to come from environmentalists opposed to the release of significantly more carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

The latter, in the form of the group calling itself Fracked Off, has now occupied Cuadrilla’s test rig at Banks, near Southport – another seaside resort that, like Blackpool, stands to lose business if fracking is permitted and starts in earnest. One should not have to consult the Echo to understand that folks in Liverpool are watching events with some concern.

It will be interesting to see how James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole and his mentor Christopher Booker now approach the subject. Perhaps Del Boy will continue to tell that it’s all “Oop North” and therefore should not stand in the way of his desire to have cheap gas for Himself Personally Now. Perhaps he will realise that those “Oop North” possess rights equal to those he enjoys.

Or perhaps he will continue to spout abuse in pursuit of personal aggrandisement and the enjoyment of his echo chamber of admirers (Sid and Doris Bonkers). For some, it’s the simple pleasures from which they take the greatest satisfaction.

[Delingpole has now decided not to mention the wellbeing of folks in Lancashire, but has dumped on the BBC instead for not serving up the news in a way that he finds ideologically acceptable]

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