Opponents square up on fracking’s new frontline

YorkshirePostLogoA pro-fracking newspaper column by Margaret Thatcher’s former press secretary, Bernard Ingham, has provoked an angry reaction from people in Yorkshire.

Writing in The Yorkshire Post, Sir Bernard described anti-frackers as “monumental hypocrites” who couldn’t “care less if the lights go out”.

He said the UK needed Kirby Misperton, the Ryedale village where Third Energy wants to frack an existing gas well. It would, he said, lead the country back to what he described as “sanity” in energy policy.

But reaction has been swift and in a Letters’ Page Special, no-one supported Sir Bernard. Correspondents accused him of ignorance and aggression. They outlined what they saw as the damaging implications of fracking in Yorkshire and criticised government promotion of shale gas extraction.

Yorkshire is now being seen as the new front-line in the fracking debate. Just under a third of the proposed oil and gas licences announced last week cover Yorkshire. North Yorkshire County Council is currently carrying out an eight-week public consultation on Third Energy’s planning application to frack at Kirby Misperton. A decision could be made by November.

In her letter, Adela Pickles, a leading member of Frack Free Ryedale, said the recent offer of gas exploration licences in Yorkshire “could be leaving our children a very different landscape than the one we know and love in the North”. She said seven new licence blocks covered the North York Moors alone: “So much for the Government’s promise to protect our National Parks”.

Monica Gripaios described pro-frackers as “appallingly rude and aggressive”. “To suggest we want the lights to go out is absurd”, she said. “There are alternatives and would be more if the Government stopped the massive subsidies to the fossil fuel industry”.

Barbara Hickman said 24/7 fracking would lead to increased traffic, noise, light, vibration and potential water and soil contamination. Fracking in Ryedale would destroy the current economy of agriculture and tourism, she said.

David Cragg-James accused Sir Bernard of ignorance of the arguments, while Josephine Downs, described the article as “offensive”. Cllr Paul Andrews suggested Sir Bernard would not accept the loss of house values if a company fracked in his area. Bob Simons said the issue of fracking licences was an act of desperation by a government with no energy policy

Paul Hill accused the government of fracking up North and sending the money south and Terry Morrell said he would give fracking a chance if half a dozen wells were established in the Home Counties, trouble-free for five years.

What Bernard Ingham said

Kirby Misperton, we need you. This corner of Ryedale, where they are fratching over fracking for shale gas, reminds me that it is 20 years since I began to harry successive governments over their idiotically expensive and dangerous energy policies.

So why is there a campaign to block fracking there?

I write as one of the last persons who wishes to defile our countryside or to become at odds with the villagers.

They fed me royally when I spoke there round about the time I started lambasting governments about energy policy.

I agree that fracking must be handled sensitively – far more sensitively than wind power has been.

But the rag bag of so-called environmentalists trying to stop fracking in Ryedale is like the rest elsewhere.

They are a bunch of monumental hypocrites who care nought for the nation’s social and economic wellbeing and even less for the poor, and are aesthetically dead.

It is they – primarily in the shape of “Greenwar” and “Enemies of the Earth” – who have brainwashed naïve politicians into believing that they can run Britain on renewables (primarily wind) and so save the world from being fried.

In the process, they have presided over the wrecking of huge tracts of wild landscape and seascape and the removal of land from food production to accommodate vast acres of ugly solar panels

They could not care less if the lights go out – after all, it should reduce carbon emissions – and have not the slightest objection to regressive taxation since wind, solar and other renewable subsidies generally represent a transfer of billions of pounds, through energy prices, from the poor to the loaded and landed “gentry”.

These people are obsessed with carbon dioxide to the point where the only thing that matters is its elimination. And to hell with the consequences. Hence, their campaign for a “frack free Rydale”. They are apparently incapable of seeing that the environmental impact of fracking is minimal compared with wind farms.

Let Kirby Misperton lead the way back to sanity with environmental sensitivity. I’ll bet their water supply stays as pure as ever, too. (19th August 2015)

What opponents of fracking said in response

Adela Pickles, Frack Free Ryedale, York

Mrs Thatcher’s former Press Secretary supports Conservative Government fracking agenda… what a surprise!

What Sir Bernard Ingham doesn’t understand (The Yorkshire Post, August 19) is that we’re not talking about one well in Kirby Misperton. The Government’s announcement of the 14th round of PEDL licences means we could be leaving our children a very different landscape than the one we know and love in the North – one with thousands of fracking wells.

There are seven new licence blocks on the North York Moors alone – at Keldholme, Spaunton, Lastingham, Fadmoor, Carlton, Gillamoor and Ebberston. So much for the Government’s promise to protect our National Parks.

Elsewhere in Ryedale, these blocks – subject to the same seismic surveys and complex technical planning applications for fracking that we have already experienced at Kirby Misperton – have been plonked on top of towns and villages like Malton, Norton, Huttons Ambo, Birdsall, Duggleby, Low Marishes, Settrington, Pocklington, Wetwang, Sledmere, Husthwaite, Coxwold, Ampleforth, Oswaldkirk and Gilling East. In the rest of Yorkshire there are many more in places like York, Scarborough, Doncaster, Sheffield and Hull.

So, to everyone who voted Conservative in the last election, be careful what you wish for. We may get our Northern Powerhouse all right, but at what cost?

Monica Gripaios, Brookside, Hovingham, York

I find the tone of the pro frackers appallingly rude and aggressive, they describe all of us as ignorant and crazy, which is far from the truth. I begin to wonder why they are so rude, and can only assume they feel threatened by our concerns.

If being worried about climate change and hoping to leave the world in a safe state for our grandchildren is such a crime, then I would suggest they really don’t care about the future.

To suggest we want the lights to go out is absurd; there are alternatives and would be more if the Government stopped the massive subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and started investing in renewables. We all know that we need to leave most of the fossil fuels in the ground if we are to avoid temperatures rising over two degrees; why not start now?

Paul Hill, Fulwood Drive, Morecambe, Lancaster

If you compare the distribution of Tory seats in the South with Labour in the North, you will find that both have large majorities. However, if you then compare the sites planned for future fracking, it’s a completely different story; the sites in the North easily outnumber those in the South.

The distribution is all about Members who represent seats in the South and who don’t want problems with their constituents. It’s far easier to sweep the problems up North where it really doesn’t matter. Let those horrible Labour people deal with it.

You can’t frack in the South because the pretty people live there in the pretty countryside; you can frack in the North, though, because it doesn’t really matter about the countryside or the people. It’s the same old Tory story: frack up North and send the money South.

Barbara Hickman, Nawton, York

Sir Bernard Ingham is entitled to his opinions; being appallingly rude devalues them. He does not understand what the 24/7 fracking process entails, ie greatly increased traffic, noise, light, vibration; potential contamination of water and soil etc. If it goes ahead in Ryedale, (950 wells proposed), it will destroy the current economy of agriculture and tourism; the wildlife will disappear and a beautiful landscape will be industrialised. We residents care very much about the livelihoods of all who live in the area, and know the value to everyone of enjoying an unspoilt natural world.

David Cragg-James, Stonegrave, York

If Sir Bernard Ingham was not so obsessed with what he did 20 years ago, he would know precisely why Kirby Misperton, Ryedale and much of the wider world were keen to block fracking anywhere.

Why give publicity to this sort of argument when those opposed to fracking have been producing arguments – scientific, medical, social, commercial, and 
human – for much of the last five years, many of which have been rehearsed in your newspaper?

Is Sir Bernard really so ignorant of what precisely is at stake?

Josephine Downs, Highfield Terrace, Swinton, Malton

As a resident of Ryedale threatened by fracking, I found Sir Bernard Ingham’s article very offensive. Has he completely forgotten the astronomical costs – both human and economic of runaway climate change?

Coun Paul Andrews, The Beeches, Great Habton, York

I wonder what Sir Bernard Ingham would say if a fracking company was to frack in the area he lives in. Would he accept the loss of value of his house without any prospect of compensation in the national interest? If the answer is no, it is he who will be guilty of hypocrisy – not the opponents of fracking.

Bob Simons, Rowborn Drive, Oughtibridge, Sheffield

The current wholesale issue of fracking licences is surely an act of desperation by a Government which has suddenly realised that it has a non-existent energy policy and that the chickens are rapidly coming home to roost.

Terry Morrell, Prunus Avenue, Willerby

Having read most of the comments about fracking, I am prepared to give it a chance. If half a dozen mines are established in the Home Counties, and are successful with no problems for five years, then they could be opened up here in Yorkshire.

Updated on 9/9/15: On 6th September 2015, The Yorkshire Post published a response from Tony Bosworth, energy campaigner of Friends of the Earth Link here

4 replies »

  1. Dear Bernard What is your explanation for the fact that whole countries after extensive research have banned fracking? Must be communists? I don’t think so. The issue for frackers is like the Emperor’s new Clothes. They repeat endlessly to themselves ISN’T IT WONDERFUL! FRACKING IS SAFE! THERE IS NO EVIDENCE AGAINST IT!

    Are their heads therefore stuck up their a——s?

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