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Tuesday 27 January 2015

Tories’ Shale Dreams Well Fracked

Shale of the Century” proclaimed the Times leader yesterday, telling readers “Britain has a chance to be a world leader in fracking for natural gas. Low oil prices and nimbyism would be poor reasons for the Infrastructure Bill to be derailed”. Whoever wrote that had good reason for the optimism: Young Dave, and the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, had been advocating for fracking of late.
As the Guardian told, Cameronhas rejected calls for a moratorium on fracking from senior MPs, including his former environment secretary Caroline Spelman, saying the US shale gas revolution can be repeated in the UK”, and Osbornehas requested that ministers make dozens of interventions to fast-track fracking as a ‘personal priority’, including the delivery of numerous ‘asks’ from shale gas company Cuadrilla”.

And the Times leader tells “there could be somewhere in the region of 1,329 trillion cubic feet of [shale]gas under northern England alone. We would be mad to leave it there … In truth, most opposition to fracking is not environmentalism but nimbyism in disguise, with an ironic similarity to opposition to wind turbines”. The initial response of Lancashire Council to refuse a fracking application is cited in support.

Then comes the stirring peroration “It would be a pity to strangle an industry in its infancy because of such concerns. Britain has the potential to become a global pioneer in fracking, much as our last energy boom allowed us to become one in off-shore drilling. One day the whole world will be hungry to extract resource from tricker fields such as these. Let us lead the way”. What boundless optimism! What stirring rhetoric! And what complete bollocks.

In any case, the Tories managed to forget that they alone did not have the votes to get their proposals through the Commons. This meant they were forced to accept Labour amendments. “David Cameron had previously said the government was ‘going all out’ for shale gas development, but widespread public concern and a looming defeat by worried Tory and Liberal Democrat backbenchers forced ministers to back down”.

How restrictive would the amendments make it? “The changes accepted by ministers would ban fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and in areas where drinking water is collected, ruling out significant regions of the UK’s shale gas deposits. The new regulations will slow down exploration by, for example, requiring a year of background monitoring before drilling can begin”.

Humiliating or what? Today, Philip Johnston in the Telegraph whines “Stop this madness over fracking – or the lights really will go out”, while the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog were dismayed: “A Labour Party on the run from the Greens put a cheap political stunt before cheap energy in the middle of a freezing cold January”. There is no chance of the lights going out, and nobody knows how “cheap”.

The Tories and their media pals just got routed. Because we don’t really need fracking.


Darren said...

That's some neck equating wind turbine nimbyism and the untold devastation that fracking would bring. Turbines mostly sit there whirring - and as far as I'm concerned don't ruin views that much. (How blighted is London by immense skyscrapers the shape of kitchen utensils?) Fracking brings rather more disruption.

Anonymous said...

The idea that wind turbines ruin a landscape already laced with pylons and power lines is absurd. The arguments against fracking are safety based, not aesthetic.