The UK government is going ahead with its plans to commence fracking across more than half of the country, hoping that it will boost the economy and provide an abundant supply of natural gas.
Critics of the process argue that it contaminates groundwater and damages the environment and public health. A grassroots resistance movement has emerged to fight the introduction of fracking in the UK, and it appears to be gaining momentum throughout the country.
VICE News travels to Blackpool, Lancashire, to see the fractivists in action. The seaside resort town is at the center of a David and Goliath battle between local residents and the energy company Cuadrilla over fracking in the region, which is believed to have one of the largest shale gas reserves in the Northern Hemisphere.
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A video on the impacts of Shale Gas on a local community
Hannah Petersen (TC) :
The recent confidence in shale gas was likely premature, according to several new reports published in the US. In particular a study from the University of Texas claims the US boom will tail off by 2020 and not keep going to 2040 as previous less thorough analyses have predicted. To anyone who has been closely following the industry in recent years, this difference in predictions will not be surprising, of course.
The UK picture
A new report, issued the same day the latest round of global climate negotiations opened in Peru, highlights the fracking industry’s slow expansion into nearly every continent, drawing attention not only to the potential harm from toxic pollution, dried-up water supplies and earthquakes, but also to the threat the shale industry poses to the world’s climate.
The report, issued by Friends of the Earth Europe, focuses on the prospects for fracking in 11 countries in Africa, Asia, North and South America and Europe, warning of unique hazards in each location along with the climate change risk posed in countries where the rule of law is relatively weak.
“Around the world people and communities are already paying the price of the climate crisis with their livelihoods and lives,” said Susann Scherbarth, climate justice and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe. “Fracking will only make things worse and has no place in a clean energy future.”
Continue reading New Report Highlights Fracking’s Global Hazards
Legal challenge to Government’s £2.5bn subsidy scheme for fossil fuel industry
The Government may be forced to suspend a £2.5bn annual subsidy scheme designed to keep the lights on as cheaply and as greenly as possible following a legal challenge in the European Court of Justice, which claims it amounts to an “unlawful subsidy” for the fossil fuel industry.
Energy minister Matthew Hancock was warned that the government's scheme risked increasing greenhouse gas emissions (Getty Images/Ben A.Pruchnie)
The legal challenge follows a warning to energy minister Matthew Hancock by the Government’s official climate change adviser that the consumer-funded subsidy scheme contained “design faults” that risked increasing greenhouse gas emissions and pushing up the UK’s collective household bill by as much as £359m in the first year alone.
With Britain set to generate increasing amounts of electricity from intermittent renewable sources such as wind, the new subsidy scheme aims to prevent blackouts by paying fossil fuel stations to be on standby in case energy supplies falter.
The scheme, which is known as the “capacity market” and due to launch in 2018, also aims to maintain electricity supplies by paying companies and households to reduce their energy use at peak times.
But it violates state aid rules because it gives fossil fuel generators much better terms than households and companies, whose contribution to keeping the lights on is actually much more environmentally friendly because it involves reducing energy use, according to the lawsuit, filed by Tempus Energy, a new electricity supplier.
Continue reading Legal challenge to Government’s £2.5bn subsidy scheme for fossil fuel industry
Currently, little is known about the levels of chemicals that people are exposed to from fracking operations, making it impossible to assess the real risk. Photograph: Andrew Cullen/Reuters
People living near fracking operations should be monitored to assess the risk of chemicals to human health, say scientists.
Chemicals have been linked to various health effects, ranging from poor semen quality and endocrine problems to miscarriages and low birth weight, very little is known about the levels of chemicals that people are actually exposed to from fracking operations, making it impossible to assess the real risk.
Continue reading Fracking chemicals could pose risks to reproductive health, say researchers
“The civil and political implications of fracking development in the UK will only intensify as anti-fracking protests proliferate alongside exploratory activity”.
A dispute has broken out between the company that undertook the UK’s only fracking operation and commentators over whether the wellbore has begun leaking.
Emails obtained by Vice News between Cuadrilla Resources, a UK oil and gas exploration company, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) seem to show that the decommissioned fracking site has issues with what the oil industry refers to as “sustained casing pressure”.
The Preese Hall well in Lancashire seems to have suffered a “loss of integrity”, implying a possible leakage of shale fluid and gases. Cuadrilla has denied that this is what the emails suggest, and a spokesperson for the company stated that “the well integrity at Preese Hall is secure and always has been”.
Vice News said there was no evidence of any leakage outside the wellbore’s casing.
However, Anthony Ingraffea, a professor of engineering at Cornell University, told Vice News: “It is quite apparent … that there was indeed a loss of wellbore integrity followed by attempts to remediate.”
Continue reading Row breaks out over state of UK’s former fracking site
A Fylde MP has called for regulation and monitoring around fracking to be tightened up ahead of any decision to allow it to go ahead.
Continue reading MP calls for tighter watch on fracking
An anti-fracking campaigner from Lancashire is taking his message to the European Commission and Parliament in Brussels today after walking for 14 days from London.
Gayzer Frackman, who changed his name by deed poll, began his walk on November 17th after delivering a letter to David Cameron in Downing Street. He will have walked 360km by the time he reaches the European parliament building in Luxemburg Square within the next hour.
There he will join Alexandru Popescu, a campaigner against fracking from Romania, who has walked more than 2,000km from Pungesti.
Mr Frackman said his walk aimed to raise awareness of what he believed were the dangers of fracking. It was also a protest at UK government plans to make his home town of Blackpool “the fracking capital of Europe”.