Sylvia May shares this latest news from Frack Free Isle of Wight. Ed
Frack Free Isle of Wight members have expressed dismay and outrage after reading the 2017 Conservative Party manifesto(a).
Firstly, it promotes the belief that the UK could replicate the US ‘Shale Gas Revolution’ despite there being no evidence to substantiate this. It is already widely accepted that factors such as geological differences and an obvious lack of vast expanses of sparsely populated areas support the contrary opinion that a UK shale gas revolution is far from likely.
Shale gas in UK completely oversold
In fact, the UK Energy Research Council, an academic consortium covering 30 institutions, produced a report on the future of gas in the UK and suggested that shale gas in the UK has been completely oversold.
Prof Jim Watson, UKERC research director told BBC News in 2014(b)
“It is very frustrating to keep hearing that shale gas is going to solve our energy problems – there’s no evidence for that whatsoever… it’s hype.
“It’s extraordinary that ministers keep making these statements. They clearly want to create a narrative. But we are researchers – we deal in facts, not narratives. And at the moment there is no evidence on how shale gas will develop in the UK. Shale gas has been completely oversold. Where ministers got this rhetoric from I have absolutely no idea. It’s very misleading for the public.”
Stripping away protection
We share Professor Watson’s frustration. Not only is the current ruling party persisting with their pledge to go all out for shale, they are now adding insult to injury by promising to strip away yet another layer of protection for local communities, stating ‘We will legislate to change planning law for shale applications. Non-fracking drilling will be treated as permitted development’.
So, what does this mean? In a nutshell, it means non-fracking wells will no longer need planning permission. However, as if that wasn’t bad enough, thanks to a gaping loophole created by recent changes to the Infrastructure Act which introduced a very specific political definition of fracking(c) based solely on the volume of fluid used, what this means in reality is even more disturbing.
No permission needed for non-fracking wells
If this plan goes ahead it will enable thousands of oil and gas wells to be drilled without any requirement for planning permission whatsoever, regardless of whether they are conventional or unconventional, single or multiple well pads, vertical or directional drilling, using acidisation or other chemicals and stimulation techniques. All ‘non-fracking’ wells. But here’s the twist.
Because of the loop hole definition, a non-fracking well CAN be fracked so long as it isn’t expected to exceed the specific volume of fluid in the definition! Using this same definition, a large proportion of the wells fracked in the US shale revolution would be defined as non-fracking wells, as would Cuadrilla’s infamous Preese Hall well in Lancashire, closed down in 2011 after causing 2 earthquakes but only using 8,400 cubic metres of fluid – short of the 10,000 cubic metres required for it to be defined as fracking.
Appeal to Conservatives
We therefore call upon every Conservative Party member, supporter, donor, Councillor, MP, prospective MP and voter to demand Theresa May rescind this policy with immediate effect.
Frack Free Isle of Wight are a grass roots voluntary organisation committed to raising awareness of issues surrounding fracking and other fossil fuel exploitation.