Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Frack off to fracking...

I wrote my first letter to our local newspaper this week, the Largs and Millport Weekly News, following a public meeting that I attended at the Yes Largs shop on Sunday about the issue of fracking. This is the letter which was published today:

"Dear Sir,

"On Saturday 31st January I attended the public meeting at the Yes Largs shop on the subject of fracking (hydraulic fracturing), at which a film entitled 'Fracking in the UK' was shown, followed by a general discussion. The film was a real eye opener in showing how the practice has been employed in parts of Australia (such as Queensland) and the United States, as well as flagging up current plans to start using the process soon across a significant portion of the north of Somerset, not far from where I used to live in Bristol.

"I was truly horrified by a lot of what was shown, including the inherent risks and the problems caused that have been denied at an official level in Queensland, for example, where dangerous levels of gas are leaking to the surface from wells, and with the contamination of water supplies. The water used to 'flush out' the gas is packed with chemicals to aid the reduction of friction, many of which are toxic to human health, as was clearly shown through many case studies, and much of which will leak into our underground natural water supply. The disposal or treatment of this frack water afterwards is yet another problem, as is the amount of water that will be required for the process in the first place, which is equivalent to the content held within three Olympic sized swimming pools per each frack line run off from a central well (of which there will be many in any area where the process goes ahead). Additional issues included the scarring of the landscape where fracking has occurred, for example through the large evaporation pits used to dispose of some of the water, the degradation of house prices in areas where fracking occurs, the increase in seismic activity (which caused problems near Blackpool not too long ago), and the increased emissions from the ground of naturally occurring gases such as the carcinogenic gas radon.

"The Scottish Government is to be commended in this last week for creating a moratorium on the whole process in Scotland, and it is a tragedy that the UK Government was not able to do the same. But this is quite simply a dirty process that we do not need. Scotland is the envy of the world in its efforts to create a self-sustaining energy industry based on our renewable resources, an aspiration that puts us well and truly on a course for the moral high ground in energy terms. Fracking will not provide a cheaper fuel source for us, it will simply be another asset to be stripped in the short term by energy firms for their shareholders' convenience, and one that will leave a dirty time bomb for posterity. Our government at Holyrood has both a voice and a leadership role, and having made an important first step in confronting the process with a moratorium, it should go much further by announcing that we simply just do not need this dangerous practice in the first place, and will not support it.

"With kind regards, Chris Paton, (Largs)"

Any government that goes ahead with this practice does not do it my name. There's a bit more about what fracking involves in the following film: