“Dear Aunty, is it true that Labour were the party in power when fracking licences were last offered up?”
Recently, anti-fracking activist Alan Tootill took it on himself to produce an illustrative map of the Fylde showing what he suggests will be the likely spacing of 100 shale gas well pads should Cuadrilla eventually progress to developing the Bowland Shale. But he’s been very naughty in his misrepresentation, as you’ll see dears.
“Dear Aunty, is it true what Gail says – that we can meet all our needs with just renewables?”
It’s certainly true that more and renewable energy generating capacity is being added to the network every year, dears, but I’m afraid the notion that we can somehow power the UK just with renewables is somewhat fanciful right now.
“Dear Aunty, why do drill cuttings not have to be treated the same as fracking flowback fluid?” asks Fred at Counterbalance.
What a good question. And easy to answer my dears.
“Dear Aunty, is it true that Residents Action on Fylde Fracking has been forced into an embarrassing withdrawal of anti-fracking literature in Lancashire?”
Yes, it most certainly seems so dears.
“Dear Aunty, is it true that we can expect all shale gas wells to leak, especially after abandonment?”
No, of course not.
Fortunately, this is one of the more easily rebutted claims often made by anti-fracking groups that claim the steel and cement with which shale gas wells are built will eventually degrade, dears, leaving gas and fluids free to escape into the environment.
Yes, I’m afraid it’s true. Fracking related pollution does seem to have occurred in the UK, and it appears that it is not limited to a single location.
There is evidence of fracking related pollution in every town or village where exploratory drilling has taken place, including around sites on the Fylde coast in Lancashire, Hull, North Yorkshire, Salford, Balcombe, Wrexham, Ellesmere Port and more.
And the pollution is highly mobile, meaning it can spread easily.
But this pollution, dears, isn’t affecting the air we breathe, the water we drink or the soil we grow our crops in. It is much, much worse.
It’s the pollution of the communities themselves. Or, more to the point, it’s the pollution of how otherwise right-thinking and rational people in those communities view the world.
Let me give you an example of what I mean, poppets. Earlier this year, when Cuadrilla Resources announced plans for two new shale gas sites in Lancashire, residents of the Roseacre village formed a loose alliance, eager to understand what it could mean for them. They began as a neutral group, but soon they became vehemently opposed, using increasingly aggressive and confrontational language and spewing anti-fracking rhetoric about the harms they say fracking for gas causes.
Barbara Richardson, who represents the Roseacre Awareness Group, is probably a mostly nice lady. But the way she attacks anyone that proffers an opposing view to hers suggests to me that she’s been ‘radicalised’ my loves.
It’s the same with Resident Action on Fylde Fracking, also in Lancashire. A scroll back through their Twitter timeline shows they were very balanced in the beginning, but now their Twitter feed is full of bile. Which is a shame, because watching them from afar, most of the members seem like decent people.
So, how has this pollution occurred? How and why are these people being radicalised, and by whom?
Well, sweeties, there are two things at play here that are influencing this behaviour in our otherwise mild-mannered neighbours. Firstly, there is the group of disaffected, anti-corporate, anti-establishment types called Frack Off. They don’t really care about the environment, they just don’t like the fact that the major political parties are all aligned in support of shale gas and that what they perceive to be the rich and powerful stand to gain from it. This group are expert at spreading lies and fear, and travel the country meeting with local residents groups, infiltrating them and poisoning their thinking, playing on their concerns and amplifying them to give the impression that they are a real and present threat.
I know they don’t care about the environment, because they’ve opposed a wind farm off the coast of Brighton. Why? Because, they claimed, it was just going to provide electricity to the communities of London.
Frack Off and it’s cohorts like Tina Rothery from Blackpool are also closely aligned with the Occupy movement, which is also anti-capitalist.
Secondly, there is the unholy alliance of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, cherubs. These are simply opposed to any form of fossil fuel development, and remain ideologically (and quite wrongly) glued to the notion that we can survive entirely without them. They are concerned about issues such as climate change, but they know that’s too distant a concept for many, so they too go into our communities and spread fear about air and water pollution, at the same time peddling the myth that renewables can meet all of our energy needs right now. Once they’ve stirred up those communities, they gradually relax their rhetoric on local environmental concerns, and shift their language to embed the climate change arguments instead. Suddenly, the communities near planned shale gas sites are all avid proponents of renewables (although few of them sport solar panels on their roofs).
But at what cost does all this pollution come, dears?
Let’s say that these outside interests win, and that shale gas extraction is halted. What then? Will we wake up to a world powered entirely by renewables? No. Will corporate interests melt away? No – and, in fact, the companies behind renewables technologies are all profit-driven, and so we’d simply see fossil fuel capitalism supplanted by renewable energy capitalism. Will climate change be stopped in it’s tracks? No – because coal, the dirtiest of all fuels, will continue to be burned instead of switching to cleaner burning gas.
And what will neighbours think of those in their communities if they succeed in derailing shale – will they be welcomed as conquering heroes? Perhaps, for a little while dears, but that will change soon enough once the UK’s reliance on gas leads to even higher and more costly imports, driving up the cost of household energy bills. If Barbara Richardson thinks that the people of Roseacre and other nearby villages will thank her for landing them with increasingly expensive home energy, she’s very mistaken. Right now, she is setting herself up to be attacked by her community at a later date but she can’t see it because she’s been radicalised by those outside interests.
But home energy bills aren’t where it stops. Without a reliable supply of affordable power, our hospitals can’t function. Has Barbara considered this impact, I wonder, and what she might say to the families whose loved ones perish because of power outages? And what of the factories that also rely on a steady supply of affordable energy, that may be forced to close without it, making many people jobless. Has Barbara given any thought to what she’ll say to local people that are made redundant?
I doubt it. Those groups and individuals that are expert at dripping poison in the ears of those that are susceptible to it won’t be highlighting these stark realities, and by the time it’s too late, they’ll be gone – off to battle the next perceived government-backed, corporate ill somewhere. Leaving poor Barbara, and others like her, to fend for themselves, pumpkins.
Until next time xxx