Morning Star :: Star Comment: Frackers face popular wrath

PARLIAMENTARY consensus in support of fracking leaves people such as the women from Blackpool with no alternative but direct action to halt this dangerous and unnecessary process.

Not a single local authority has stepped forward to offer its territory to the frackers, even with a government bribe offered, because councillors know that it would amount to a political suicide note.

The gas companies draw pretty little illustrations of a pipe disappearing vertically into the ground, turning horizontally and fragmenting geological seams that contain shale gas.

But they do not explain the scale of such an operation and the disruption that it would cause in heavily populated areas.

Gas industry operator Cuadrilla has applied to Lancashire County Council for planning permission to build access roads on a field off Preston New Road to set up a drilling rig.

That would be merely the first step. These roads would carry heavy containers of water, chemicals and sand to be mixed into fracking fluid for pumping into the newly dug shale wells.

Some of this noxious fluid would then be recovered to be transported elsewhere via these same overloaded roads, leaving new-build gas extraction facilities on site.

The ramifications for local people are unquantifiable — not only the danger of seismic activity, which is well documented but also despoiled soil, polluted air and contamination of water resources.

Fracking already has a history in the US, where its advocates boast that it has lowered gas costs and assured energy supplies for decades.

It has also left areas of the US like a moonscape, polluted and unfit for human habitation.

Pro-fracking Tory politicians concentrate on the twin benefits of lower prices and guaranteed supply, suggesting that this could be replicated in Britain.

However, even the gas companies deny this, since Britain is part of a European energy market and a unified pricing mechanism. This country could not legally reserve shale gas produced here for consumers in Britain.

So short shrift should be given to any politician who seeks to sell fracking on the basis of lower gas prices.

As lamentable as the legacy of fracking is in the US, it would be infinitely worse in this country because of the disparity in size.

An expanded road network, polluted industrial sites and likely damage to water supplies pose a much greater problem to this island than to the massive US subcontinent.

Fracking poses a threat not only to our environment but also to our democracy because of the parliamentary stranglehold on the ability of landowners to reject the opportunity to join the shale gas bonanza.

The Labour leadership’s decision to back government plans to amend trespass laws to permit corporate frackers to drill under property without the owner’s permission is unfathomable.

Eighty per cent of Labour supporters are opposed to this policy, with nearly three-quarters of people surveyed taking a similar stance.

Politicians should think very carefully before nailing their colours to the mast of a ship holed below the waterline.

Parliamentary unity means little when people outside the Westminster bubble decide to make their voices heard, as Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax debacle demonstrated. Politicians should resist the siren song of the rapacious fracking lobby.

Instead of handing millions of pounds in subsidies to the frackers, the government should be investing seriously in renewable forms of energy generation that will respect the environment.

via Morning Star :: Star Comment: Frackers face popular wrath.