“Kick in the teeth” by shale gas task force – Balcombe residents


Ten residents of the West Sussex village of Balcombe have demanded their names be removed from the latest report of the Task Force on Shale Gas because they say it looks as if they endorse the conclusions.

The industry-funded task force said this week (16th September 2015) that shale gas could help the UK move to a low-carbon economy. But the villagers say they do not support its findings.

The residents met the task force’s chair, Lord Chris Smith, to talk about their experiences when Cuadrilla drilled an exploratory oil well in Balcombe in 2013.The use of their names in the report felt like a “kick in the teeth”, they said.

In a letter to the task force secretariat, they have demanded that their names are not used in the final report, expected in December, and they have asked for existing online documents to be edited to remove their names.

Kathryn McWhirter, writing on behalf of Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association and No Fracking In Balcombe Society, said in the letter:

“We invited you here to Balcombe in hope and good faith, and we have since ‘fed’ you further information, studies, reports, articles, balance. To see our names on a document that promotes shale gas – well, it feels like a kick in the teeth. We feel as if we have been used.”

Ms McWhirter said the group’s intention was to guide Lord Smith towards “truth and reality”. But she added:

“You have not listened, not to us, not to other community groups. And you have made it appear that we colluded with an organisation that has caved in to the propaganda from the industry and government that have funded and facilitated it.”

“You must be aware that we do not endorse the conclusions of your reports. We do not see gas as a bridge fuel! Consider the time scales, the economics, the hacking away of renewable pillars supporting either end of that bridge, the lack of development of carbon capture and storage for the power sector.”

Updated on 19/9/15 to correct two typos

4 replies »

    • oops! Sorry about that.
      Should read: They do not support its findings.
      Thanks for pointing this out. Now corrected and updated.
      Best wishes, Ruth

  1. I think what is sad to see is that it is very obvious that the world is going to be principally coal powered if we keep going down this route of opposing everything that is not wind and solar.

    Of total global energy last year wind achieved what, 1%? Solar was more around 0.2%. I know there are people who just want to shout at the entire planet and tell everyone to all at once stop, but the reason why it doesn’t happen is for the same reason that those same people then get in their cars and drive to the shops – after shouting at everyone they join the real world. Begging for something that doesn’t work to work after 20 years and well over a trillion dollars just doesn’t seem sensible to anyone.

    The people screaming about climate change, but at the same time demanding that no change is made to fossil fuel use other than what they want, and no nuclear, and none of this or that unless it is more wind and solar – they are not helping the climate.

    The best thing for climate change is to get off of coal use as soon as possible. That is virtually impossible. Coal use is increasing every day. Renewable installation only managed to cover around 20% of the total energy increase last year. We need to get real about climate change and start attacking it from every single angle we can, not just tackle 1% of it and then get annoyed because our technology is not good enough to tackle the other 99% unless we have infinite money, political will and ignore the very real problems with our current renewable technology – like it falls flat in winter, and that even when the Guardian get to run a click bait story on how great it is that country X just broke its renewable record we all get to pretend that the baseload power stations just magically weren’t also running/ready and waiting, or that the practicalities of renewables magically does away with the need for baseload, or that it magically does away with the fact that renewables are barely economic without even considering a national scale energy storage system.

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