Fracking risks undermining UK climate commitments, leading environmental groups tell minister

171014 KM KMPC.jpg

Third Energy’s fracking site in North Yorkshire, 14 October 2017. Photo: Kirby Misperton Protection Camp

As Third Energy prepares to frack the first UK onshore well since 2011, nine environmental organisations have told the government they have “growing concerns” about the process.

The groups, including Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Campaign for National Parks, Wildfowl and Wetland Trust and WWF, wrote to the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, saying fracking threatened UK commitments to tackle climate change.

Mr Clark is expected to give the final go-ahead imminently for fracking at Third Energy’s well at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire.

Greg Clark letter signatories 171019

The groups said in their letter released today:

“Climate change is the most urgent and complex threat to the British countryside today.

“With the majority of known fossil fuels needing to be kept in the ground, hydraulic fracturing in England risks undermining further deployment of renewables and energy-efficiency measures, jeopardises progress towards carbon reduction, and undermines our international leadership on climate change.”

The letter said fracking was “not currently credible” in the context of the Paris climate change agreement or the UK’s own emissions reduction targets.

It added that the government’s advisor, the Committee on Climate Change, had said shale gas was incompatible with UK carbon reduction targets unless three tests were met.

The UK government has said these test were already being met. But the groups asked Mr Clark:

“How are plans for hydraulic fracturing consistent with ensuring that we do not extract more gas globally than we can safely burn?”

Elisabeth Whitebread, energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said:

“It would be deeply disappointing if UK government gave the green light to new fossil fuel projects, just before the UN Climate Change Conference invites international action to protect the climate. We already have more gas than we can afford to burn if we are to meet our climate targets.”

Steve Mason, from Frack Free United, founded in Ryedale, the area surrounding Third Energy’s fracking site, said:

“Giving the final sign-off for fracking to start is a crucial decision for the Secretary of State and we urge him to consider it very carefully before he puts pen to paper. It is a decision that will affect communities across the country and future generations to come.”

“Deeply unpopular”

The groups also said in their letter there were concerns about the local impacts of shale gas extraction.

A report commissioned by the Department of Environment concluded that the process could lead to increased air pollution, from vented gas and increased road traffic. The government, when forced to publish an unredacted version of the report, said it was an internal draft. But the groups said in the letter the risk of reduced air quality would only add to a problem of illegal pollution in the UK which resulted in 40,000 premature deaths a year.

They said shale gas was also deeply unpopular. The latest government survey of public attitudes to fracking found that only 16% of participants supported the process.


They asked Mr Clark:

“What strategies are in place to ensure that local environmental impacts are kept to an acceptable level, and that residents’ concerns are addressed?”

“Risks outweigh benefits”

Earlier this month, a government report concluded that shale gas was not necessary for UK energy security, while the Clean Growth Strategy did not mention the process. DrillOrDrop report

The letter said:

“Aside from the climate, pollution, biodiversity, and local community concerns, recent geological evidence suggests there is not enough likely yield to justify the risks, and that extracting shale gas could be much more expensive than previously thought.”

Following this week’s vote in Scotland to ban fracking, Steve Mason said:

“Frack Free United believes that the government should halt all fracking activities and rethink its outdated energy policy.

“The development of a new extreme fossil fuel industry across England would have negative and far-reaching consequences for local communities, the environment, public health, climate change and our future energy strategy.

“With fracking to be banned in Scotland, the Westminster government is now isolated in backing this unpopular industry. Their own recently published energy plans made no reference to fracking, and showed that fracked gas is not necessary for energy security. The government should stop forging ahead with fracking and focus their efforts on clean, cheap and popular offshore wind and tidal power instead.”

  • The letter was signed by senior figures in: 10:10 Climate Action, Angling Trust, Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Frack Free United, Greenpeace, Salmon and Trout conservation, Wildfowl and Wetland Trust and WWF.

Letter to Greg Clark


80 replies »

  1. Read a few comments on this post and I definitely concur that ‘biomass’ is one heck of a big scam. We are spending funny money importing ‘sawdust’ that has been reshaped into pellets and then wasting huge amounts of fuel in transporting it across the world. If you want to make a few quid easily then get involved in this.
    Secondly the Catalonia issue is tragic. The Spanish have cocked it right up. They should have given them a referendum and my bet would have been the independence case would have been lost like ours in Scotland (of which I’m very glad!). Now the bozos amongst us believe the majority want independence which is actually not true.

    • Just go to my twitter address, @doublemracing and view the pictures and text which makes a whole mockery of whats happening in that little island called the UK

        • Barnerttt shale is way SW of that area, Wilcox formation reservoir is that area, looks like the water supply company is at fault there

          • Go on my twitter account @doublemracing, theres pics and facts on there, cant change pure fact backed up with pictures, not others BS

          • i looked at the report on the Barnett. Few things here, sounds like a filtration problem here, like water the world over its filtrate and treated as required before being sent into the water pipeline system, normal unless you are in 3rd world countries.
            After setting surface casing intermediate casing is set and cemented into the well bore way deeper than any water sones, these are very shallow around the world.
            After intermediate casing has been set the well usually drills to KOP in the shale and builds at 2-3 degrees per hundred through the shale to reach 90 degrees horizontal through the shale until total depth is reached. If you or anyone else dont know shale is impervious, consolidated Sand and Clayton make shale.
            Theres zero porosity or permeability in shale, thats why it has to be fracked to allow hydrocarbons to flow into the wellbore and be pumped to surface, might flow initially but it goes to pump unit very soon. So, would be a massive frac job to break thru all the shale to the above formations, massive!!! So the problem most probably aint with the fracking but the filtration system before the water is in the distribution line, water company problem, nothing to do with fracking, normal.

            • I hope the industry didn’t teach you those facts about shale Mark. They are wrong in so many ways. Interesting to note that the other pro-fracking guys haven’t raced to correct your points. For a start if shale was 100% solid and with zero porosity and permeability then fracking would have no chance of being productive at all. And anyway if you simply introduce fissures into such a solid mass where would the gas come from? Secondly exposing rock, that was as solid as you make out, to around 15000 psi (as in fracking), would have absolutely no effect whatsoever.
              No, shale is full of natural fissures which are surprisingly planar, and the planes lie roughly in parallel. These structures can be seen wherever shale formations reach the earth’s surface. The drilling aim is to work out the orientation of the vertical underground planes and then drill through them laterally so as to intersect as many as possible. The recoverable hydrocarbons that have slowly formed over millennia lie trapped in those fissures which get opened up (slightly) by the fracking process and held open by the proppants (sand or ceramic granules) just enough to let the gasses pass out and into the bore-holes and back to the surface.

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