Fracking is a Gas!

by billhoult on 5 August, 2013

I have received representations from constituents regarding their concerns and fears about extracting gas from shale by the process known as hydraulic fracturing (Fracking). The process involves forcing water with additives into bore holes under such pressure that the shale is fractured thus releasing gas from the rocks.

Although we can never be sure it is unlikely that the process will be carried out within the immediate area of Harrogate and Knaresborough as the main areas currently identified as suitable are:-

(Extracted from Wikepedia)
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has identified large areas of eastern and southern England as having the “best shale gas potential”:The main area identified runs from just south of Middlesbrough in a crescent through East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and the Cotswolds to Somerset and Wiltshire. It then turns along the South Coast and Downs, including most of Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey and Kent. Shale gas sites are under investigation in the Sussex commuter belt, near Haywards Heath, the Mendip Hills, south of Bath, in Kent, Lincolnshire, south Wales, Staffordshire and Cheshire, as well as more sites near the existing find in Lancashire.

Also although the Government has suggested that it will operate a favourable tax regime for the industry it will still be necessary for any developer to seek planning permission to carry out the extraction. This will require any prospective developer to provide detailed information on the project for public examination before a decision is made (You may be familiar with the current process being carried out regarding the proposed Potash mine on the East Coast).

If an application is received locally for fracking we all will have time to register our views/ objections to the proposal and subject it to an examination.

As to my views on fracking  I have at this time an open mind on the subject (albeit a skeptical one) and certainly agree that the prospects of lower energy bills as result of any extraction is unlikely. The concerns I currently have is the that the Government is actively promoting the proposals and suggesting that “asking too many questions is being negative”. This is more about the medium term energy gap rather than a reasoned approach to the issue and must be resisted.

On the other hand the stories of water contamination, pollution and even gas coming out of taps are mainly from the United States and are likely to be exaggerated or a result of bad practice. This is why it is important that any application is thoroughly scrutinised through a robust process.

I would appreciate views and comments.

Cllr Bill Hoult

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