MP calls for a “warm Britain fund” from shale gas revenues


Labour’s former energy spokesperson, Caroline Flint, has urged the government to spend money from the proposed shale wealth fund on insulating UK homes.

Speaking in an adjournment debate in parliament this evening, Ms Flint said the proceeds from fracking tax revenues should be ring-fenced for energy efficiency measures that would reduce future dependence on fossil fuels.

She told a handful of MPs at the debate:

“We could look forward to a day when we are not dependent on fossil fuels by reducing our long-term energy use.

“A shale wealth fund could provide an opportunity to enhance a large scale retrofit of the UK’s housing stock, protecting households from future energy prices rises.”

Ms Flint, who has supported the development of UK shale gas, said the wealth fund was not an immediate solution because, as she put it, “We are some years away from receiving significant tax on profit from shale”.

But she said her idea of a “warm Britain fund” would have a “specific purpose, one that everyone could see the point of, a big picture idea that counts and whose impact can be clearly seen”.

A consultation ended last month on government plans for a shale wealth fund, which it said would be based on 10% of tax revenues from gas production. Ministers have estimated this could amount to £1bn over 25 years.

At the consultation launch, Theresa May said some of the money should be paid to households in shale gas areas. Opponents of fracking have said this amounted to a bribe and have questioned the government’s figures.

This evening, the Thirsk and Malton MP, Kevin Hollinrake, whose constituency is largely covered by shale exploration licences, said the greatest impacts would be above the ground, in noise, traffic and light pollution. He argued:

“Some of the financial benefits should go directly to some of the householders that suffer the biggest brunt of those difficulties.”

But Ms Flint said developers should mitigate undue impacts and there were many ways in which to compensate people living near shale gas wells.

She said spending on energy efficiency could stimulate growth, jobs and innovation and help the UK prepare for a low-carbon future.

“UK building stock is a long way from the low energy housing stock that the UK will need and the challenge is still huge.

“Our communities could benefit in a more profound way, beyond traditional compensation grants.”

jane-ellison-mpThe Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison, said the government expected to publish the result of the consultation by the end of the year.

She said:

“Local communities which hold the resources, and therefore support the industry’s development, should directly benefit from doing so. This could amount to as much as a £1bn of extra funding across these regions over time and so we believe that it is local people who should have a say over how to use such funding.”

But Ms Flint urged the government to “think bigger” and warned there had been problems with previous community benefit schemes:

“There can be a danger sometimes that only the loudest voices get heard and I have quite a few local football who get more strips than Manchester United because they’re back every year putting into funds.”

66 replies »

  1. Ms Flint is talking out of step with her party as Labour intend to ban fracking and I think she will find that many in the licensed areas do not want money that is considered nothing more than a fracking bribe. Perhaps Ms Flint should consider moving to the Tory Party as they are the only main party in Westminster that supports fracking.
    As for fuel poverty, which seems to be pushed forward at every opportunity by those that support fracking, how many times does the industry have to say that fracking will not lower fuel bills before this fact will sink in? And pensioners and people in fuel poverty need help now, not in 10 years time on the back of an industry that may or may not be viable. People suffering fuel poverty deserve far better from our politicians, they should not be used like pawns to promote their personal and hypothetical views on fracking. People are suffering now – that is the reality. Any responsible government should tackle fuel poverty now and in a decent society fuel poverty should not exist. It should be a thing of the past long before any shale gas may or may not be produced. It is a disgrace that it exists in a country as wealthy as the U.K.

    • The article below makes some valid points about how funds should be allocated if climate change is taken seriously (which it should). The UK might take note of the proposal. Rather than spend a lot of money on very expensive and life threatening Green projects, that money should, in part at least, go to R&D, so that one day renewables become more cost competitive and practical. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-climate-plan-might-not-be-so-bad-after-all/2016/11/21/f8c37aa8-acef-11e6-a31b-4b6397e625d0_story.html?utm_term=.b20b57aa45ad

      Bringing additional gas to market in the UK can have only one impact on prices. Clearly this is to push prices downward. We can argue as to how large an impact it will have – much will depend on how much gas is produced – but there is zero doubt that adding supply will lower price. And since even small improvements in price can create significant improvements in mortality, it is worth considering – rather than selfishly brushing it aside in order to move on to expensive Green fantasy projects. Note too, that lowering gas prices vis a vis greater gas production is much preferred to raising energy prices by funding more expensive renewables. The delta between these two avenues will be considerable, and thus much human suffering and potential for loss of life hangs in the balance.

      I agree that fuel poverty should be tackled directly. Promoting practical and low cost energy extraction from onshore natural gas would be a logical first step toward this end.

      • Peeny – your statements about climate change and renewable make little sense in the light of a UK government who have (more than) decimated the renewable energy industry at the same time as promoting the short term dirty sticking plaster which is fracking.

        Nice to see Lomberg getting another outing in the Washington Post – he’s a bit of a case isn’t he? http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/08/bjorn-lomborg-just-a-scientist-with-a-different-opinion/

        Which life-threatening green projects are you particularly scared of – solar power? wind? wave? recycling? Do tell.

        You keep telling us (against all the expert opinion and evidence) that “Bringing additional gas to market in the UK can have only one impact on prices. Clearly this is to push prices downward.” The best that you can claim is that even Cuadrilla’s PR people admit any potential impact is likely to be “insignificant”. Perhaps you don’t understand the impact in the UK of the European gas market and global LNG? Google is your friend there.

        You should also be wary of making statements like “Note too, that lowering gas prices vis a vis greater gas production is much preferred to raising energy prices by funding more expensive renewables” when the available evidence from DECC’s wave research demonstrates exactly the opposite.

        The delta between what you say and the facts is considerable.

        Producing shale gas is not “low cost energy extraction” and you know it.

        Apart from all that it was yet another marvellous post from the master of sockpuppets. Well done!

        • Yes, John, renewables clearly have been an expensive project, not only in the UK but in other places as well. Increasing energy prices leads to higher mortality rates. There is a direct and well-documented connection.


          I’m not going to explain the gas market to you again, John. But additional local supply always results in lower prices. This is a basic economic principle. You may not believe the impact will be significant, I feel otherwise. There is room for differing opinions. I know many experts who agree with my viewpoint, so I find your statement that my views are against “all expert opinion and evidence” to be shallow and narrow-minded.

          As for DECC’s wave research, I am afraid you have missed the point here, Johnny. I wasn’t arguing about opinion polls, I was arguing that people would prefer lower power prices to higher because higher prices translates into more pain, suffering, and death for those who are not as fortunate as you, John.

          Shale gas production is very inexpensive. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out. In the US we have seen natural gas prices fall from over $9/mcf to around $2.50 thanks to shale operators, who now account for almost 70 percent of the market. The shale story has been a success of massive proportion due to not only the vast quantities of gas produced, but also because the cost curve has fallen sharply as techniques have been refined.

          There is very little reason to believe that the same techniques and technology will not be employed in the UK over time. It will be expensive to extract gas in the UK at the start, but over time as the industry grows and the service sector is brought onboard, costs will decline just as they have at every other operating zone in the world. I would imagine that the UK could become as inexpensive as the US at some point because the land/license acquisition costs are much more reasonable in the UK.

          The potential for attractive economics is what has attracted big name investors such as Riverstone, Total, and Centrica.

          There is always uncertainty, and these investors could be wrong, but indications thus far are very promising. Fingers crossed!

          • Peeny – if you think UK shale gas is going to save Mad Rev’s fictitious Auntie Elsie you are as crazy as he is. UK shale gas is not going to translate to lower consumer prices. Everyone agrees. Get used to it. Renewable subsidies do add a small amount to each consumers bills but if people are dying because they can’t afford gas prices that is due to a failure of government intervention and not a failure to extract an amount of gas which will have no significant effect on European gas prices.

            Please don’t bother to “explain” your ignorance of European gas markets again Peeny – you will only embarrass yourself further.

            Without opinion polls how do you know anything about what people prefer Peeny? LOL. People have expressed a huge preference for the development of renewables over fracking in the consecutive DECC wave reports. I’ll take professional polling over Peeny-style prognostications and confabulations every time thank you. Even if people *would* prefer to ignore climate change and save a few pence on their bills we keep being told by everyone bar you and two has-been politicians that UK shale gas won’t deliver that result, so why do you keep claiming it will? You make yourself look ridiculous.

            There is no cogent reason that anyone has put forward publicly to suggest that shale gas in the UK can be extracted at less than the current wholesale price. If you have some evidence show it or stop making claims about things you don’t seem to have researched properly. Saying “well costs are bound to go down” is NOT a cogent reason Peeny. You will have to do a bit better than that.

            I think I demolished your new fable about “the UK could become as inexpensive as the US at some point because the land/license acquisition costs are much more reasonable in the UK.” previously so I won;t repeat myself.

            “indications thus far are very promising” – well at least you have a sense of humour if not a sense of perspective.

            • “UK shale gas is not going to translate to lower consumer prices. Everyone agrees. Get used to it.”

              I disagree, John. As do many of the gas analyst to whom I speak. So, I shall not “get used to it.” Rather, I will rely on the factual context surrounding the matter. Adding to supply will undoubtedly cause differentials to spread in the right direction.

              Without seeking opinion polls, I believe that people prefer lower energy prices and fewer deaths to fuel poverty than the opposite. I do not feel this is unreasonable, you feel otherwise. That is clearly your prerogative.

              “There is no cogent reason that anyone has put forward publicly to suggest that shale gas in the UK can be extracted at less than the current wholesale price.”

              If you are so concerned with a public declaration of the above, then go ask one of the companies that is investing in the space. Personally, I find that money speaks – and the fact that these companies are making investments tells you what you need to know about their beliefs.

              I don’t have to stop making any claim, John. You are not the dictator of this website or the internet more generally. My claims are very well supported by fact, and that is why you are so very threatened by them.

              You may think you’ve demolished the argument that UK shale extraction costs could be competitive, and that’s just fine. In fact, I’d prefer for you to keep thinking that, John. I know from speaking with operators and service providers that they see great promise in the potential economics of UK shale, and that’s sufficient for my purposes.

            • I see we still have polite Peeny today – maybe the Gestapo tore your metaphorical fingernails out earlier in the week?

              You continue to patronise us with your platitudes then old thing – I think most who read the comments here have got your number by now. Pip! Pip!

            • A few good quotes for you and the rest of the mafia who think that your Green Utopia does no harm. From an article in Forbes:

              “Endlessly ignored by those promoting renewables and/or those directly invested in the business itself, higher cost electricity (and energy) is horrible for our health. That’s because, since electricity is so indispensable, meaning that it “cannot not be used,” higher cost power drastically erodes our disposable income, which is the very basis of our health – while also disproportionately hurting the poor most. As a percentage of income, poor families pay 5-9 times more for electricity than rich families do.”

              “Predictably silently, higher cost electricity in Europe is killing tens of thousands of people a year, ”Excess Winter Deaths,” where older residents on fixed budgets in particular are forced to turn their heat down to avoid overly expensive utility bills. For example, there were 44,000 Excess Winter Deaths in England and Wales in 2014-2015 (see here). Critically, although we keep hearing about the dangers of a warmer world, “cold kills 20 times more people than heat.””

              To illustrate, Denmark and Germany are the proud wind capitals of Europe, but they also have the highest home electricity prices on Earth, 42 and 40 cents per kWh, respectively, against just 12.5 cents in the U.S. Germany has embarked on a $1.4 trillion energy transition (“Energiewende”) that has resulted in recent Der Spiegel headlines like: “Germany’s Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good.”

              Naturally intermittent and more expensive, wind and solar power have surged under Germany’s very expensive energy plan, and the goal remains to get as much as 60% of power from renewables in 2035, versus 28% today. Undeniably non-sensically, Germany has been paying over $26 billion per year for electricity that has a wholesale market value of just $5 billion (see here).”

              You will find the article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/judeclemente/2015/12/27/europes-energy-and-electricity-policies-are-a-bad-model/#2eeb554a60e6

            • The way the government deals with subsidies for energy sectors and sections of the community is indeed problematic Peeny. The trajectory of costs for renewables is also fascinating and encouraging.

              And maybe we need to look at how we let multi-national companies off huge amounts of tax but condemn some citizens to fuel poverty. There could be a solution there couldn’t there?

              The existence of furl poverty doesn’t make the case for UK shale extraction though. The world is a bit more complex than your fables about UK shale gas extraction saving Granny from freezing to death this Christmas. (Spoiler alert – it won’t)

            • The trajectory of costs for renewables is promising. Agreed. But there is still a long way to go, especially if we account for the costs of batteries and/or redundant backup power sources.

              Fuel poverty doesn’t make the case for UK shale, I agree. The case for UK shale is made by the economics of the activity. This is called capitalism. It happens that shale gas can help those in fuel poverty, just as it can help reduce GHG emissions, and it can increase energy security, diversify the energy portfolio, create wealth, create jobs, and make energy intensive industries more competitive. As you say, it’s a bit complex, but worthwhile all the same!

            • Come on – own up – who hacked Peeny’s account.

              “The case for UK shale is made by the economics of the activity. This is called capitalism.” Hmmm.

              Dickens had it right on capitalism Peeny “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

            • You cherry pick data that you can distort to mislead people peeny – admit it. The Germans are forging ahead with renewables and are now hitting days of oversupply of completely clean energy. When you look at more reliable and more recent figures – as here: https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/what-german-households-pay-power … you can see what is going on – it is explained as well. While the German household bill is about 25%more than UK’s for the given examples (fig.5) , if you take off the renewables and CHP surcharges they’re roughly equivalent to the UK figure. Now note that with the progress made and the oversupplies starting to happen they’re in a position to start ramping down the surcharges… the first reduction has just kicked in. The strategy is working. Bear in mind also there are increasing options to to go off grid to save money and now with the rapidly falling prices in home-energy-storage solutions that opportunity will only increase.

              Nobody can flick a switch and turn on 50%’s worth of shale gas for the UK grid, it’s going to take years, new infrastructure and hard won battles. There’s time to establish other ways and means, otherwise England/UK is going to fall progressively behind on the newer cheaper cleaner smarter forms of power generation and delivery. Then it will look rather foolish being lumbered with a creaky new (but deteriorating) system that ties up big investment committed to a 30-80 year life cycle – and with far larger greenhouse penalties.

              Not smart at all.

        • Fossil fuels, especially oil and gas, receive substantial tax allowances, meaning the consumer is paying higher prices. Then lets not forget, the not very ‘green’ nuclear power, which has cost British tax-payer and consumers £70 billion. Then there is the other £70 Billion in decommissioning costs! And this does not take into account the amount of money spent on Hinkley, before it is built, and the subsidies, it will receive, courtesy of the tax-payer and consumer.

      • What wealth fund would that be.

        Surely the really big players who know the UK market wouldn’t miss out on such a whoosh deal.

        “We had a look at the UK sometime back”. Presumably when prices were much higher.

        Yet they still don’t want to touch it.

        Another witness to the committee, Tor Martin Anfinnsen, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Trading, Statoil, said his company had interests in shale but only in the US. He explained why:

        “We had a look at the UK sometime back as part of a global survey with Chesapeake, of the US, but we decided against going into the UK.

        “We believed we were operating in a more prolific basin in US than what the UK could offer. But I think it was primarily it was what we call the above ground risk, not so much government policy but it’s a fairly densely populated country this and there have been obstacles, if you will, to our activities in the Marcellus field in the US as well and we thought they may be even tougher to overcome here.”

        Asked by Lord Livermore if he expected a situation where he would reconsider that decision, Tor Martin Anfinnsen said:

        “You can never say never but I don’t expect that. For us, it’s much more cost efficient, at least based on our own calculations, to develop offshore fields, our offshore Norway assets, and bring that gas into the UK by pipeline.”

        • John, so what Statoil are saying is that it’s the opposition that’s stopping them investing. In other words if it wasn’t for the political problems they’d be all over shale like a rash, and I suspect they will be in a few years time. With the incredible potential of Dr Trice’s basement plays West of Shetland, and the shale potential onshore things are definitely on the up for the UK energy scene, just in time.

          • Mark – Statoil actually said “But I think it was primarily it was what we call the above ground risk, not so much government policy but it’s a fairly densely populated country this and there have been obstacles, if you will, to our activities in the Marcellus field in the US as well and we thought they may be even tougher to overcome here.” That is not the same as saying it’s just those opposed to fracking who are stopping them investing, although that is clearly a part of it. Fracking in an area 10-100 times as densely populated as the USA means more collision with regulation apart from anything else.

            Hurricane’s off-shore developments, and the others that may follow, bring the case for fracking on shore still further into question.

            • Hurricane’s offshore fractured basement reservoirs are oil not gas? Are you advocating we burn oil for electricity generation and heating?

              And I doubt they are commercial at current oil prices.

            • No Paul I’m not, which is why I mentioned the others that may follow – we already have Total’s new gas fields off Shetland and if the industry gets its way we shall no doubt see others too.

            • Laggan-Tormore – yes, started production earlier this year. More fields like these will be great but unlikely. Decline will continue, imports will rise. Total have apparently said that the economics are marginal and that they may not have developed these fields had they known the market situation today. But they are on production, so good news for the UK at least. Not sure Petrofac agrees as they took a major hit on this development, Total has a great contract…..

              So refracktion, you are another supporter of gas, albeit from the North Sea or outside the UK? Along with John Powney. You actually agree with me about our need for gas going forward? And I expect you also agree with National Grid’s outlook?

            • Paul – given the failure of successive governments to support renewables I foresee that the UK will indeed be using gas for some time. From a climate impact point of view I don’t think that is a good thing but I don’t control our energy policy. Whether we manage to wean ourselves off it before it is too late is moot and betting on CCS would appear to be a forlorn hope. A sane government would be encouraging renewables for all it is worth – not least because of the regenerative economic impacts the required investments could have. Instead we have seen this dash for gas and the decimation of our UK solar and wind industries. Maybe renewables require too much long term thinking for our UK politicians? This is after all the government that seems to think nobody will notice that PFI is the fiscal equivalent of maxing out on your credit card and hoping for a higher limit to bail yourself out, so maybe we shouldn’t be totally surprised.

              There is indeed a trilemma but the problem with UK onshore fracking is that even the wildest forecasts show it won’t have a significant or sustainable impact on the problem, but it is diverting from efforts on renewables and it will have a massive impact on the areas on which it is forced. Onshore fracking is a dirty plaster on a running sore. The medium and long term answers will have to be found elsewhere.

            • refraction – we are coming closer together on this. As long as energy policy is market driven it will follow the current path and we will end up in 2050 with the National Grid Consumer Power FES (market driven). I think CCS will happen but high gas usage will contnue even if does not. I totally agree with you about PFI – an absolute disgrace and economic madness. However it is apparently so good (for Government fiscal reporting) that other countries are adopting PFI. And we can’t even blame it on one particular breed of Government, the last 3 have all been at it.

              The problem with R & D for renewables is not a dash for gas (very little has been spent on shale gas in the UK if this is what you mean) but the focus on two particular types of renewables, wind and solar, and the huge amounts of money thrown at them, and taken in profits, often outside the country. Companies should have been made to spend some of their huge profits on R & D in more reliable constant base load renewables technology, and of course storage. This is only happening very slowly.

              So we will continue with gas in large quantities for electricity generation and heating, and perhaps hydrogen generation for transport fuel, for the next 30 years at least.

              And climate change is going to happen which ever National Grid scenario we follow; we are irrelevant on a global scale. What we should be doing is spending money on adapting to it instead of research into how bad it is going to be, we all know this already.

            • Paul – I think we can all see the problem.Where we appear to differ is over the appropriateness / efficacy of UK shale as a potential “solution”.

              The problem with the “dash for gas” isn’t what has been spent on shale gas in the UK by government – it is what the prospect of a short term “fix” has done to support for the development of the renewable industry. Hence my comparison with the short-sighted PFI, which as you rightly point out has been a favourite of successive chancellors who were struggling to appear competent.

              I think we can agree that climate change IS happening (not going to). Again we differ in our beliefs about how relevant or otherwise human activity is / will be. Out of interest, how do you adapt the Maldives or Tuvalu to climate change?

        • “We took a look at the opportunity in UK shale and thought that the geology looked very promising. If we are right, this Bowland shale, could be the most prolific fields in all of the world. It is very large and enormously thick. We also believe that the advantages of having an infrastructure right there, already built, are very significant. As opposed to many other areas of the world, where land costs are high, the land costs are relatively low in the UK, keeping overall costs low. We believe that as the services sector is built in the UK, that unit costs will decline such that these fields will ultimately be as competitive or more competitive on costs than many plays in the United States. Though it is still in its early stages, it is quite promising to already see involvement in UK shale by large integrated companies such as Centrica, Total, and Ineos. Normally we wouldn’t see investments from such large companies at this stage of development, but it points to the very large and promising nature of this opportunity.”

          • “As opposed to many other areas of the world, where land costs are high, the land costs are relatively low in the UK, keeping overall costs low.” Really?

            According to Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors the most expensive place to farm in the UK was the north-west of England. Agricultural land costs here broke £10,000 (that’s $12,500) an acre 3 years ago.

            Tell me Peeny what would I expect to pay for an acre of arable land in North Dakota or Pennsylvania?

            Mr Google tells me that in 2015 the average value per acre for farm real estate in North Dakota was $1,920. In Texas it was about $1,940 and in Pennslyvania it was a mahoosive $5,500 per acre.

            Given that the Fylde seems to have higher prices than any US State except New York and Rhode Island which just pip it at the post with $13,000 and $13,800 respectively, can you explain exactly which areas in the world are being referred to there please?

            By the way who are you quoting there so we know who to keep tabs on for fibbing?

            • Nope, John. In the US, lands are privately owned and the costs of land in shale plays can be in excess of 10k/acre. In the UK the only land owner that would need to be compensated are those whose land is impacted at the surface level. The rest is through the government.

            • “the costs of land in shale plays can be in excess of 10k/acre”

              Er so still less than $12,500 then Peeny? 🙂 And that assumes that the massive premium over standard agricultural land valuation you suggest wouldn’t be replicated in the UK.

            • Yes, but in the US the landowner owns the resource underneath his land so gas companies must pay the rate over wide areas to extract the gas. In the UK they need to pay the land owner just for surface activities which are a fraction of the total activities. The rest is through the government.

            • Yes I suppose that’s true – so your comment about land costs should really have been about surface land take not unit land costs. The frackers must be so glad that the crown (via the government) seems to be keen to give the frackers such cheap access then. Maybe we should be suggesting that the government doesn’t sell our birthright for such a tiny mess of pottage?

            • I would imagine that should onshore gas prove successful, the Gov’t will make sure it takes its fair share. Given the history of the tax regime in the North Sea, I think this is a fair assumption.

    • Well said KT but must point out that ‘fuel poverty’ in this context does not exist. It is a term bandied around by analysts and newspapers. ‘Fuel poverty’ actually mean a lack of fuel available per say.

      Its about true poverty caused by this current government that disables pensioners from being able to afford the necessities of life in the later years which includes often an increased fuel use. The pensions given to those who have worked so hard in the past are a joke.

  2. Has the government being doing deals behind closed doors with the fracking corporates? Let me guess … they’re being made huge promises – of multitudes of jobs, energy security and rich dividends by ‘inward investors’… to put a respectable gloss on American style strong-arm lobbying. I’m sure Ms May will love the idea of Shale gas revenue doing for her what North Sea oil did for Ms Thatcher and I bet there have been some huge ‘sweeteners’. SoS Javid’s brazen overruling of local democracy shows all this as already locked into national energy policy as do the EA public consultations (for the regions affected). This will not end well…. however “Ms Flint said developers should mitigate undue impacts and there were many ways in which to compensate people living near shale gas wells.” – a free drinking water tank maybe? What a relief!

    • Yes we noticed that Lee – it was quite depressing to see another politician just parroting industry PR rather than thinking the issue through. It’s clear that the idea of how to compensate a community that is being had over is just as confused as it always was.

      In the meantime, the government should indeed be pursuing an agenda of demand reduction and energy efficiency WITHOUT requiring the elusive prospect of tax revenues from shale gas in 10 years time to fund it

  3. I guess there’s no reason why the proceeds of the shale wealth fund should not be split between different recipients. I agree with the PM that local people should benefit to some extent although it will be difficult to pay people individually. I think at least half the money should go down to the lowest level of government closest to the sites, the Rural and Town Councils. I think thay are best placed to know how the money is best spent. The other half could go to a “warm homes” project or something equally beneficial to the community as a whole. However there is always a danger of money like this being sucked up into the general tax pot which would be a pity.

    Regarding the issue of price, of course both sides are right, initially the amount of extra gas will make little difference to supply, but eventually, as more projects come on stream, the extra supply could be significant. This will increasingly be the case if France, learning from the nuclear problems, and with a more right-wing government (God, not Le Pen), decide to diversify their sources of supply. France has massive shale potential.

    Finally it amuses me that the extra revenue accruing from shale is instantly dismissed by oponents, actually what extra revenue means is new schools, clinics, play facilities etc.

  4. Always nice to see a headline with the bozo party that is currently known as Labour advocating their approval of fracking. The tide is turning at a steady pace. Lovely jubly.

    • The first licences for fracking were issued in 2008 by the Labour government after a licensing round that began November 2007, also during a Labour government.

  5. The points about health and climate change being raised need to be taken seriously, but from a better informed perspective than those viewpoints on offer by peeny.

    The only benefit to health that could possibly come from a transition to shale gas is in areas that are heavily dependent on coal mining and coal power generation of the old, traditional type of operation. This does not apply to anywhere in the UK that I’m aware of. The final deep pit closure was last year (see excellent current BBC doc ‘The Last Miners’ covering this closure if interested). The overall atmospheric polluting effect from shale gas fields would be approximately the same, or worse, than newer cleaner coal mining & power-gen (if ever these were rebooted for Britain). As better understandings arise about the harmful byproducts of fracking processes overall: the effects of methane seeps; other more toxic emissions, and groundwater depletion and contamination, then the shale gas industry doesn’t fare so well.

    The same argument applies to climate change with respect to greenhouse gasses. In fact there is no argument left to defend shale gas as a transition fuel. There’s a couple of very good Yale sources here – one giving a balanced pro’s and con’s list on fracking issues – with links to supporting studies. It is clear that For & Against are at loggerheads but given that the ‘against’ arguments are at least as serious as the ‘for’ arguments it would make a lot of sense to have a moratorium on fracking unto the monitoring and evaluation (post hoc) is more conclusive. It is clear that fracking developments since 2007 have outpaced the regulations that are capable of ensuring its self-acclaimed safety and pollution standards are actually met:

    • Phil, you are incorrect if you believe that coal generation is equal to or less harmful than gas. And btw, in 2015, the UK still got 20% of its power from coal, so there is a way to go. Progress is being made on coal, but gas is already taking its place. You pretty much missed the boat on this issue, while you were arguing against gas, it ate coal’s lunch! So, the only question is do you want domestically produced gas, or more environmentally damaging foreign gas?

      Shale gas has been produced for over 40 years. It has been studied at a level of detail that few other industries are subject to, for almost twenty years. There is no lack of data regarding the industry. So, the need for a moratorium is nil. What is needed is action.

      • Very reckless of you to ignore those studies and to play so fast an loose with the truth. The industry itself has been very poor at monitoring it’s own emissions let alone bothering about contamination and climate impacts. It’s been very good at denials though.

        Interesting to see you guys get so excited about the new exploits… lots of hype without a single successful borehole yet.

        Lack of homework too. You don’t seem to realise how much land ownership is by landed aristocracy, royal/dutchy and CofE. They hold mineral rights on those titles by the way.

        • Actually, Phil, if you look at the data for last year, you’ll find that burning coal in electricity generation was responsible for emissions of 920 tonnes of CO2 / GWh of electricity supplied whereas gas was significantly below that at 379 tonnes of CO2 / GWh. On that basis alone, gas – including from shale – is better than coal for the climate.

          Burning coal in the UKs current fleet of power stations is still a substantial source of other atmospheric pollutants too – Greenpeace reported in 2013 that coal fired power generation here is responsible for around 1,600 premature deaths a year from NOx and particulates. The there’s the Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material released when burning coal (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/202/4372/1045) and mercury, a known neurotoxin (http://naei.defra.gov.uk/overview/pollutants?pollutant_id=15).

          But mining coal also releases methane directly to atmosphere (a potent GHG as you may know) and contaminated water that collects in abandoned mines (some of which is known as Acid Mine Drainage) is a serious and continuing pollution threat to inland waters in the UK.

          So, actually, on every measure I can think of, coal is worse for the environment than gas.

          • I wouldn’t argue with that @_environmentor. Peeny didn’t read my comments on coal closely enough. I wasn’t sure how up to date existing plants are – not very, I imagine. But there are low carbon and even some (pilot) zero carbon methods of power generation from coal these days, even without having to worry about CCS (carbon capture and storage). There’s gasification and combined cycle turbine systems, and CHP power plants (combined heat and power) at all scales… Dong energy has been my main source of info on these.

            One of the reasons I was thinking coal would be interesting to revisit (to research at least) was the social dividend. There are whole communities based around coal fields, with connected traditions that go back centuries, and England has a huge amount of the stuff. Community and cultural disturbances would be far less than for Shale. Smarter power management and agile grid management would allow a more localised, distributed approach to power gen rather than having just a few monster stations like Drax.

            With shale gas fields the methane emissions would quickly overtake coal’s as you’re talking hundreds to thousands of shale wells to match the output of a large coal mine, then, as everything passes through just a few apertures with a deep coal mine, emissions would be far easier to manage. Bear in mind too that new shale wells have to be drilled and/or fracked over a rolling, ever expanding horizon, every three months at least to build up or just sustain flow (the declining output per well is so steep). None of the frack pushers want to mention or consider (as a realistic cost) the environmental impacts of large scale shale development – this topic will be avoided or lied about to save embarrassment and the probable rejection of the whole initiative.

            Still wondering whether the sums would work for rebooting coal. It could be a better bridging solution than gas (possibly) and some byproducts from coal are still needed – like tar for road surfacing. Jet fuel can be derived from syn-gas too.

            • Phil, the level of ignorance that you display amazes me at every step. You argue for coal and imported gas, yet you try to pass yourself off as an environmentalist? I just call you confused.

              Sure, there are low carbon technologies being explored for coal, just as there are for gas.

              You understand the devastating impacts coal has on the health of the nation, and then you argue for it based on the “social dividend.” Do you expect anyone to take you seriously? Have you not paid attention to the massive social dividend associate with gas in the US? Do you not understand the serious and life saving advantages of gas over coal, as @environmentor has just pointed out? You speak about community and cultural disturbances from shale, but what does that even mean when you are talking about significantly more deaths in local communities due to coal? Do you have any concept of what you are saying? What would the community and cultural disturbance be from a great deal of wealth and jobs pouring into a geography due to shale extraction?

              Were you against the introduction of the wheel, Phil? Fire?

              You say, “With shale gas fields the methane emissions would quickly overtake coal’s as you’re talking hundreds to thousands of shale wells to match the output of a large coal mine” Do you have any data whatsoever to back this claim? @environmentor has just pointed out that there are a lot of fugitive methane emissions from coal mines. What has your empirical research on the subject revealed? Because many believe that fugitive emissions from CSG are much greater than rates seen from gas production. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/26/australia-coal-seam-gas-emissions-may-be-vastly-underestimated-report

              And, just remember, those hightened levels of fugitive emissions from coal production are in addition to the smoke stack emissions from coal burning.

              So, to recap, Phil, you are all about bringing back more coal production to replace gas. That’s going to be a big hit to the environment. You’re also for using foreign gas rather than domestic gas – another big hit to the environment.

              And you call yourself an environmentalist? I call you a NIMBY!!

            • Peeny – I never mention Coal Seam Gas as a source – that’s just another, equally polluting form of fracking. Nor did I mention underground gasification (Mark).

              In fact you shot yourself in the foot (as if you had any left to shoot) with the CSG reference – that is another form of Unconventional Natural Gas extraction which the article compares to the problems of shale fracking. To quote your source:
              … “According to research compiled by experts at the Melbourne Energy Institute, when fugitive emissions reach 3.2% of the overall gas produced, gas loses its edge over coal.”
              … “However, studies of unconventional gas – shale and coal seam gas – in the US have found fugitive emissions are often as much as 17% of the gas produced.”

              But I am talking about the latest methods of coal handling and firing which are still cleaner – better than 2%.

            • Phil, you don’t get it do you? When coal is extracted, it invariably produces associated gas. That gas is naturally emitted as the seam is exposed.

              So, any comparison of gas with coal needs to take this into account. It isn’t appropriate to only consider the smoke stack impact of coal generation against the full life-cycle of gas extraction to transport to generation. But that is exactly what the article you cite has done.

              When you consider the full impact of coal, including all of the methane emissions related to extraction it is easy to see why the vast majority of environmentalists favor gas over coal.

              High emissions rates have been found in some gas wells. Those problems were subsequently fixed. The IPCC pegs average fugitive emissions for the industry at approximately 2%.

  6. I think the general view from the scientific community is that coal is more CO2 intensive than natural gas, maybe twice as bad, which is why gas is advocated as the bridge fuel to provide part of back-up to weather dependent. (and therefore unreliable) renewables until such time as the unreliability problem is solved.

  7. Philip P, do you mean underground coal gasification. Wow. Are you really suggesting coal gasification as an alternative to fracking. Coal gasification as I understand it involves setting fire to the coal seam in situ underground and controlling the burn by regulating the oxygen input and then harvesting the output of gas through a separate outlet to the surface. Arn’t coal seams generally nearer the surface (and therefore any water courses). I’m just a laymen and if it can be done safely, fine, but it seems to me we should be exploring fracking first before investing in an unproven technology. Experiment, yes, but not to the exclusion of shale development surely.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s