Will #fracking really be too expensive in the UK, Aunty?

“Dear Aunty, is it true that fracking will be too expensive to succeed in the U.K.?”
What a marvellous question this is, dear, and one that goes right to the heart of the role shale gas could one day play in the U.K.

Those that are opposed to fracking often say it will be more expensive to extract that the wholesale price of gas, and therefore will be unprofitable.

Attacking a technology you don’t like based on potential costs is nothing new though, poppets: anti-nuclear groups have been doing it for years and, more recently, we see others attacking renewables over the high costs of subsidies.

Renewables, however, provide us with an interesting analogue.

In the Guardian today, Chris Goodall makes much of the falling costs of solar photovoltaics (PV) as a direct consequence of increases in deployment around the world.

The same will happen with fracking in the UK, cherubs, and we know this because the Time/Experience effect is well documented – the more you do something over time, the better and quicker you become, which is partly why solar modules are now cheaper – and because it’s what’s happened in the US.

After the OPEC nations tried to choke-off America’s shale revolution by pumping more oil and gas, fracking companies there invested more time and effort in finding operational efficiencies that mean they are now able to drill and complete wells in a fraction of the time it used to take. Those efficiencies have helped the US continue to develop its own shale reserves even in the face of very low market prices.

So, sweeties, it’s very likely we’ll see the costs of shale gas extraction here fall precipitously as more wells are drilled and as the industry matures, with innovations being developed to continuously drive down costs – just like in renewables.

If they didn’t think it would be profitable, they wouldn’t be doing it and investors wouldn’t continue funding it.

Until next time xxx


I believe in natural gas, says Barbara

“Dear Aunty, is it true that Barbara Richardson of Roseacre Awareness Group once said that she believes in natural gas but just couldn’t see how she would personally benefit from fracking near her home?”

Yes, dears, it’s true.

In 2014, shortly after Cuadrilla Resources announced plans to explore for shale gas near the Fylde village of Roseacre, Barbara Richardson was quoted in the Blackpool Gazette as saying “I believe in natural gas…”

Barbara believes in natural gas.png

“…but what’s in it for us? It’s not really been sold to us that we’ll benefit.”

Since then, she’s become an ardent anti-fracker, campaigning against Cuadrilla’s plans and is this week appearing at a public inquiry on the topic being held in Blackpool.

Her original comments will no doubt leave many wondering whether she’s now opposing fracking simply because there’s not enough personal gain in it for her?

Particularly, sweeties, considering her husband is quoted in the same article as saying “I think fracking is safe. I’m sure they’ve done enough investigation.”

Until next time xxx


#Fracking hypocrisy from Fylde MP

“Dear Aunty, is it true that MP Mark Menzies is being more than a little hypocritical in his statements on shale gas?”

It certainly seems so poppets.

Following the news that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, has “recovered” the Cuadrilla planning appeals and will now make the final decision himself instead of the unelected planning inspector, Mr Menzies is reported in the Blackpool Gazette to have asked the Secretary of State to justify his actions, asking this question in Parliament:

“For what reasons he has decided to recover the planning appeals by Cuadrilla Resources to build shale gas wells at Roseacre and Preston New Road?” to be told it is because the drilling appeals involve proposals for exploring and developing shale gas which amount to proposals for development of major importance having more than local significance.

He has previously said, on the same topic:

“The fact that this major planning application has been called in by the Secretary of State is a well-established process for such important developments.

“While I am sure there will be claims that this is some kind of Government conspiracy, it is actually more democratic in that the decision will be taken by an elected representative of the UK Government, rather than an unelected civil servant with no democratic oversight.

“I know in the past there have been major planning appeals, such as the Queensway development in St Annes and the travellers’ site application in Newton, where residents have successfully campaigned for the Secretary of State to call in decisions to ensure the proper level of oversight.

“The process is well-established in that the full public inquiry will still be carried out by the inspector, a report and recommendation made before a final decision by the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, meaning there will be that additional level of oversight on these crucially important matters.

“I will be speaking to the Secretary of State about these applications and will impress upon him my belief that the decision made by the local council should be adhered to.”

On 4th December, he also asked this Parliamentary Question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what he weight he plans to give to the views of people living close to the proposed shale gas well at Roseacre and Preston New Road in the process for considering planning appeals by Cuadrilla Resources to build wells at those sites.”

He seems rather intent on making sure that local views trump national interests, doesn’t he dears?

Which is strange, because on 27th November, Mr Menzies expressed entirely the opposite view on the matter of Heathrow expansion.

Here’s what he said:

“We have one of the biggest airports in the world, with a proven track record of success, at the edge of one of the greatest cities—possibly the greatest city—in the world, so it is frustrating that we have spent all this time prevaricating and being sucked down by, in effect, glorified nimbyism. I say to Members from west London: “It is not about you; it is about the future of the United Kingdom.” I find the stance taken by some people in recent years quite frustrating; it really is starting to wear a bit thin. This is not about electoral or mayoral campaigns; it is about the economic future of the UK.

“It is frustrating that national infrastructure issues that affect not just London but my constituents in Fylde are being sucked down to the lowest common denominator of what is right for a handful of constituencies in west London.

“My constituents, and many others in the regions of the United Kingdom, would be delighted by such an opportunity for jobs and growth—they would absolutely bite your hand off—but we have been pulled down into a very narrow debate about what is right for west London. What is right for the United Kingdom is that we build a third runway and identify Heathrow as the hub airport for western Europe. What is right for the United Kingdom is not that we have a fudge, but that the Government’s decision is clear and timely, and that we get on with it. Let us get it built.”

So, where fracking is concerned, Fylde MP says local not national interests should win the day. Where Heathrow is concerned, we should ignore local NIMBY’s and just get on with it.

Mr Menzies appears to be tying himself in hypocritical knots. He should stop playing this silly political game and throw his weight behind shale gas in Lancashire, helping to secure much needed jobs and investment. Because, as he rightly points out to Members representing West London constituencies: “It is not about you; it is about the future of the United Kingdom.”

Until next time xxx


Vivienne Westwood – part of the climate problem

“Dear Aunty, is it true that Vivienne Westwood is part of the climate problem she claims she wants to fix?”

Yes, I’m afraid it’s very true.

Vivienne Westwood’s fashion industry is among one of the most wasteful, high energy and carbon intensive sectors in the world.

It thrives on built-in obsolescence (that’s “sooooooo last season dahling”) and positively encourages waste as a result.

In a bid to create clothing that looks great but costs comparatively little, many garments are made in places like Taiwan and China – places with poor environmental controls – and where the majority of energy is obtained from burning coal.

And then there are all the shipping emissions of getting finished garments from the factories where they’re made, all the way to our high streets.

This report on the topic is very instructive http://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/uploads/Resources/Other_Reports/UK_textiles.pdf

Rather than jumping on the anti-fracking and climate change bandwagon, Vivienne Westwood should consider how she can make a real difference by changing the fundamentals of fashion so it becomes more sustainable.

Of course, dears, that involves effort, investment and sacrifice. Which might explain why she chooses to spend her days travelling around the UK to protest about fossil fuels instead.

Until next time xxx