Question Time in Blackpool asks: ‘Who decides on fracking?’

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Question Time in Blackpool, 1 March 2018. Photo: BBC1 Question Time

Who should decide on fracking came under the spotlight on BBC Question Time from Blackpool last night.

The Conservative panellist, Ken Clarke, said the Government should decide because he believed national interest outweighed local opinion.

The former UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, while supporting fracking, said local people could be given the say through a local referendum.

Labour’s Owen Smith, the Shadow Northern Ireland Spokesperson, said the Government had overblown the benefits of fracking and lied about giving local views priority. This wouldn’t happen under Labour, he said.

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Audience member who asked the question about fracking decisions, Question Time, 1 March 2018

The politicians were responding to an audience question:

“Is it fair that on two occasions planning permission to frack this area was not approved by the council and the government overruled us?”

The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, granted planning permission for Cuadrilla’s fracking scheme at Preston New Road, near Blackpool. He also said he was minded to approve a similar proposal at Roseacre Wood. Both applications had been refused by Lancashire County Council.

Last night’s Question Time also heard from Michelle Dewberry, winner of The Apprentice in 2016, and now a TV presenter and businesswoman. She said the fracking industry had failed to win over people. Another panellist, Blue Peter and Winter Olympics presenter Radzi Chinyanganya, called for a move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The issue of who should decide on fracking plans is now being investigated by a parliamentary select committee.

One option would be to regard fracking as nationally-significant infrastructure, where decisions are automatically made by ministers.

Lancashire County Council said no to national decision-making last week. Fylde, the district council covering Cuadrilla’s sites, is being recommended by officers to say there is “merit” in taking fracking decisions out of local control. (DrillOrDrop report)

One member of the largely anti-fracking Question Time audience contrasted how the will of the people was being used to support Brexit but not local fracking decisions.

Another said a shale gas industry would generate “billions of pounds” of tax revenue and “millions for the local economy”.

He said:

“Everyone in this room is going to go home tonight and put their gas central heating on. A wind turbine is not going to heat your house. It was the Labour Party in 2008 that actually got the ball rolling on shale gas and issued the exploratory drilling licences.

“This is under British regulations and British gas engineers, the best in the world. We will do it right.”

180301 QT audience1The final comment from the audience was:

“I wonder if the decision would have been overturned in the same way if the fracking was taking place south of Watford.”

Who said what about who decides?

Michelle Dewberry

“I think fracking, for whatever reason, is an industry that has completely failed to win over and convince people of their arguments.

“I think people are concerned about safety. People don’t want earthquakes and big firms denying all knowledge and then admitting down the line that maybe it is.

“It is a real safety concern and until those safety concerns are properly addressed and people understand what’s going on, until that point is reached, we’ve got a problem. I don’t understand what it’s going to take, because it hasn’t yet happened that that industry has managed to get people bought into what they’re doing and the benefits of it and address their real safety concerns.”

Asked if fracking would happen, she said:

“I think it is something that is not still understood enough to the degree where we can make a proper informed decision about it and I don’t quite understand why it is a very unpopular industry, and I understand people’s concerns here, if it was on my back garden I’d have concerns about it as well. But I just think that the industry needs to work closely with government regulations and residents to properly communicate what it is doing and to reassure those safety concerns if it wants to get the go ahead.”

Nigel Farage

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Nigel Farage, former UKIP leader, on Question Time, 1 March 2018. Photo: BBC1 Question Time

“It’s right of Government to have concerns. Michelle’s point about a very effective lobby against fracking – and they’ve been very good at it – they’ve been very good at putting the fear of God into people.

“Look, no form of the extractive industry doesn’t bring some degree of risk with it, whether it is coal mining or whatever it may be.

“We have been fracking since the 1950s. America has done more of it than we’ve done but even we’ve done a bit of fracking in this country.

“What you have got in this part of England is the most phenomenal reserve of natural gas.

“Exploited carefully and sensibly, it would not leave great scars on the landscape like coal mining did in many areas and it would revolutionise the economy of the northwest of England by providing tens of thousands of well-paid jobs.”

To shouts from the audience, he said:

“We must be mad, we must be mad, to look a gift-horse in the mouth.”

The audience booed when he said:

“It’s unpopular because people don’t like things in their back yard obviously and because the campaign has been effective against it.

Ken Clarke

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Ken Clarke, former Conservative Chancellor and Home Secretary, on Question Time, 1 March 2018. Photo: BBC1 Question Time

“Of course we have a good local planning system but in big things of national importance the Government must have a role particularly nowadays.”

He said if Isambard Kingdom Brunel were building a railway from London to Bristol, he would have been advised not to go through the planning system. Mr Clarke likened fracking to building new roads, railways and airport runways. He said:

“You take account of local opinion.”

David Dimbleby: “and then ignore it?”

“You don’t ignore it but the national interest outweighs that and if the local opinion is just rejecting advice of the national geological survey, the scientific world, about whether there are risks involved in fracking or not, I think a Government is entitled to say in the national interest I think we’re going ahead.”

Mr Clark said:

“We have had decades of fracking and all this campaigning about all the dreadful things that are supposed to happen, your water will be poisoned, you’ll have earthquakes…”

David Dimbleby: “They did have earthquakes

Mr Clark said the Blackpool event was “not detectable by a human being on the surface. It was a low level tremor.”

Several people in the audience said “I felt it”.

At least nine people put up their hands when asked if they had felt the earthquake connected to fracking at Cuadrilla’s in 2011.

Radzi Chinyanganya

“We talk about well blow outs, we talk about its carbon intensity, we talk about it’s [being] water intensive but the very big issue is that if we’re serious about protecting this blue marvel that we’re on we need to move away from fossil fuels and really embrace renewable energy. In this area, there’s a lot of wind, why don’t we use it?”

Owen Smith

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Owen Smith, Labour’s Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, on Question Time, 1 March 2018. Photo: BBC1 Question Time

“The benefits of fracking are totally overblown. The volume of jobs will be tiny, the reserves that we have are much less than America or France or some of the other places where they have shale gas to frack. In some of those places, like France, they have decided not go after it.

“Why did we have the Tories overruling local people? It was because they decided round the time of them getting elected in 2010 that it was a good idea for them to try to mimic the States. They could sell to people, as part of their election platform, that they were going to unveil this great new industrial revolution. It was going to produce jobs and cheap, free energy practically in this country. All a load of rubbish.

“The other thing they lied to people about was their suggestion that local people and local decisions will be given primacy. That clearly hasn’t happened here. It should have happened and if it had happened we would not have the fracking in Blackpool. It wouldn’t happen under a Labour Government.”

Question Time can be viewed for 11 months on the BBC IPlayer

What do you think about the answers of the Question Time panel? Please post a comment with your views.

136 replies »

  1. It is worrying that there were so few comments about the extreme danger that climate change represents.

    But there was another thing that concerned me. One member of the audience appeared to get the better of the anti-Frackers. He made the point that you need gas on days like those we are seeing now & went on to claim that wind turbines won’t keep your home warm. He seemed to silence the anti-Frackers.

    That was a real shame because those of us who read energy policy and energy related engineering news know that the UK now has a route to a carbon neutral heating sector.

    Wind turbines can indeed help to decarbonise heat by moving over to ground/air/water source heat pumps; we can now get a large proportion of the gas we need from anaerobic digestion plants with the raw material coming from waste sources like sewage and grass, and we can use the renewables to separate hydrogen from water, using hydrogen for heat. Leeds will soon be converted to hydrogen for heating (the H21 programme) with plans to expand this across the north of England.

    What we need is for government to throw its weight behind the 100% renewables options and make the break with fossil fuels. If government sent that clear signal we could make very rapid progress indeed.

    But what happened on Question Time revealed two things: –
    * While most people know there is a climate crisis –
    * Most people do not understand the path to 100% renewables.

    So there’s a job for us campaigners ! My campaigning team will be producing a short video on this before the end of the month.

    • Hi Jon.
      The north-west coast from North Wales to Cumbria hosts legions of windfarmstuff and onshore there are many solar farms already putting electricity into our national grid.
      Statistics that are largely ignored by local media and the national television news.
      Earthquakes presently afflicting many parts of our planet break out at weak spots in the earth’s crust. Check out dutchsinse and the weak spots are mostly active or dormant volcanoes and, would you believe, old deep drill holes and more recently, fracking wells.

  2. I have studied Fracking for over 17 years. I have read over 1 million pages of data and reports, The conclusions of all bar 7% of these reports from across the globe some leaked from the industries themselves is that it is a remarkably dangerous process and should never have been considered. Horizontal bore drilling is the most unsafe method and the environmental cost cannot be mitigated. The only way to even attempt to remove some of the risk would make the whole process economic suicide for the prospector. Countless accidents in the US and Australia have lead to lawsuits which could drag on for many years. The Geological Survey states clearly that while there may be reasonable yields from Marcellus Shale, the Bowland Shale plates which comprise the UK geology may have yielded gas around 50 million years ago but compaction means that the reserves have been heavily overstated. The industry in the UK is predicated simply on carpetbaggers hoping to reap rich subsidies as yields are not realised. I could go on for hours but I feel that if you could get the muppets on this QT edition to read and report back on the same degree of research I have done they would either conclude, as 93% of those reviewing this for 2 decades that this is literally the death of the UK geography and corporate manslaughter on a mass scale or they would, as is the current vogue in this dishonest and despicable world, simply lie as they did last night!

    • If you have read so much for so long, it’s surprising that you still cannot separate horizontal drilling from the fracking operation. Why has it got more danger than any other angle of drilling? you claim you are are so well read on the subject, please enlighten us all.

      Just as a clue for you, I’ll let you into a secret: the vast majority of producing conventional hydrocarbon wells in Europe are either horizontal or high angle. There are even ones that go upwards in parts. I’ve drilled plenty of them, so I’m looking forward to your expert opinion on what makes them so different to vertical or sub vertical wells?

      And feel free to explain what Bowland ‘plates’ are, and how much actual shale gas fracking has gone on in Australia? Not coal bed methane drilling, but actual shale gas?

      And just so you know, the British Geological Survey actually estimated the Bowland to have 1300 trillion cubic feet of gas in place. It has not revised that estimate, no matter if you say that they have “clearly stated” otherwise. Other people have speculated on the possible lower production economics but since it is Cuadrilla who have core samples of the stuff sitting in labs right now, they are the ones who will find out if there is still gas in the shale making most speculation, moot.

      You may have read a million pages but you still don’t seem to know much about it.

      • Hi Martin D. I’m sure Simon will respond but I would like to chip in by asking you a couple of questions. Can you please clarify your claim that the vast majority of conventional wells in Europe are either horizontal or high angle. I understand that most will deviate from the vertical in some way or at some stage but to imply that the ‘vast’ majority are bored at (or near) the horizontal is astonishing. Can you give stats on that? By ‘high angle’ did you mean near-horizontal or near-vertical? I read Simon’s ‘horizontal bore’ drilling as layman’s speak for the drilling associated with (HVHF) fracking which is our subject here, but yes it should have been qualified.

        Also from the stated ‘in place’ estimate of 1300tcf (for Bowland Shale gas) and a realistic recoverability rate of say 6% i.e. if the target strata was saturated with boreholes, could you tell us by rule-of-thumb at least, how many thousand wells would be required for that level of gas recovery? Thanks

        • I dont know if anyone bothers to keep records of what angle wells are drilled at as a whole because it makes no real difference on surface, but certainly if you are drilling a production well in Europe for at least the past 20 years, you drill (the producing section of the well) it at high angle or horizontal through as much of the reservoir as possible or as required by the reservoir engineers.
          I havent drilled a vertical or near vertical production well for many years, since the rise of reliable directional drilling equipment. You might drill an exploration or appraisal well, a pilot hole or a water or gas injector at vertical or near vertical, but not a producer. (the angle of a well is measured as inclination from the vertical, so a horizontal well is 90 degrees and a vertical is zero degrees)

          The idea in a producing well is to maximise the exposure of producing permeable rock to the borehole. The routine is usually to drill below the roof of the reservoir and obviously above the water level if its present (gas floats on oil, oil on water), with the view to maximising extraction of oil/gas from the reservoir before the water (or gas if you are drilling an oil well) reaches the well and production ceases The directional equipment to do this is pretty much the default equipment available such as rotary steerable tools or downhole motors. These days and it would be unthinkable to do otherwise or at least you’d need a good reason not to (a reservoir delineated by faults or pinch-outs for example).

          There may be exceptions to this with conventional onshore as the money involved, equipment strength and license areas have traditionally been much smaller and directional drilling equipment is high cost, but its certainly the default offshore. As with all technology, it becomes cheaper and more available to smaller operators eventually as can be seen in the Lancashire directional drilling.

          Drilling and fracturing are completely separate operations though, wells are drilled horizontally in conventional reservoirs and may or may not be fractured depending on the permeanility measured. The low permeability of shale means you need a greater exposure of the reservoir to the borehole so this was never economic until it was possible to drill great lengths of well through it. Drilling horizontals has a few more engineering challenges than a simple vertical, but nothing that isnt well understood and dealt with every day.

          The BGS estimated “gas in place”, so thats what the geology might hold. As for recovery, Ive no idea what the percentages will be, you can’t really know recovery factor of a new area until you drill it (you would only estimate it based on analogues in other parts of the world). There is no objective though, in the gas company’s mind, to attempt to recover all of the gas in place.

          You say 6% but is that 6% of oil, or gas, or of a giant field or just the license area? Recovery is a function of the geochemistry of the rock and the fluid, the physical properties of the shale, the fracturing technique, and a hundred other factors and will vary from place to place and stratum to stratum so nobody can predict each well it with any accuracy until an area is explored. They will test it and who knows, it may not fracture very well or be too clay-rich to produce economically, or there may indeed be not enough gas left in place as speculated by some people. Thats why the operating companies have drilled exploration wells. Sorry its a bit long winded, hope that helps, Philip.

    • Hi Simon I take the honesty and integrity of people who post on this site extremely seriously, what I would say to you is post as much information and links as you can to further compound your posts and I will read every word. If you feel strongly and can back it up it will make people think and expand their knowledge and bring them to form their opinions. I have worked in the US and Australian oil and gas industry and can say categorically that the U.K regulations are a lot higher. If you quote reports please put links.

    • Simon you are right. We have been evidence collecting as a community and this form of drilling even before fracking, is desastious for the water coarses alone. Raising flooding and water flow along the fault lines. The damage is happening now, already. The government has not looked at the science and is working against democracy and informed knowledge of the people. Do we want to stop this. Get the scientists to present upto date findings on what happened after the earthquake? Try and find the water monitoring? Try hard. If you find it please inbox me.

    • Fracking is a fossil fuel option. It is opposed not only by locals, but by people all over the country. I live in the South West, why would I oppose fracking in the North East? Because despite crushing discouragement of renewable solutions they are still going ahead. I installed solar panels on my house in the midlands, then when I moved down here to a woodland site, I installed an air source heat pump. People are installing solar panels on their houses. People are voting with their feet, and their wallets.

      We had a meeting in a local hall about fracking. No real likelihood of it taking place here so close to Hinkley Point, but there was almost complete resistance to the idea. The roads would be full of lorries and they are full enough already. the above ground would be defaced by industrial structures, the groundwater on which wildlife depends would be damaged. Stability of the earth would be threatened. Would the local community benefit? No, only the fracking companies would benefit.

      We need to develop the storage of power options. Electric vehicles could store power generated by solar powered supermarket car parks It has already started, but greed is ruling and overtaking the National interest.

  3. Well, Jon. Nice that you are going to “inform” us who are less able to grasp these complicated issues! Will you be informing us of where PART of Leeds hydrogen will come from? (Don’t think it is water, but perhaps I have been lead up the wrong waterway. Hope so, because the antis reckon we will run out of water.) Maybe you will include a little section from the scientists at Oxford and Cambridge concerning their views regarding hydrogen production? With a campaigning team on the job, I’m sure it will include all these aspects apart from the campaigning. Looking forward to the end product.

    • Martin. When I went to the 2 day conference held by the Energy Technologies Institute (given £500 million by the UK government to find breakthrough low carbon technologies) I was interested to note that the energy industry was keen to supply hydrogen derived from methane, keeping the fossil fuel gas industry alive by offering to use CCS to extract and store the CO2. The ETI was sceptical of obtaining hydrogen by using the renewables because it had invested in some potential areas but found the cost was too high. But the penny is beginning to drop – when you use excess wind power to generate hydrogen, when the electricity is not needed by the grid, the energy is almost free. And that is a key part of the economics deployed by the firm behind this startup – along with its new electrolyzer. We are getting to where we need to be so it is time to ditch fossil fuels and focus 100% on the renewable technologies to provide both electricity, energy storage and hydrogen.

      • Hi Jon. I had read about this. The possibilities of rapid uptake in diesel (truck/bus etc and later cars) conversion looks like a good pathway to a rapidly expanding marketplace.

        Has the transport of hydrogen rich media like ammonia/urea been considered in your pathways at all? I know that for the time being these things are fossil fuel products (for fertilizers etc) but there’s so much experience around of their safe transport and bulk handling that it might suggest something interesting – just a thought. Then there was this (benign) hydrocarbon wax with rapid H2 release possibilities (you’ve probably heard of already): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27759014

      • The largest Water electrolysis plant is currently the Energiepark Mainz in Germany. This draws power from four nearby wind parks and when fully operational it can produce 200 tons of hydrogen per year.

        In comparison 200 tons is around the daily output of the average sized Steam/Methane Reformer in the US.

        How much Hydrogen will be required to heat all the homes in Leeds?

        • “How much Hydrogen will be required to heat all the homes in Leeds?”

          Four times the volume of natural gas; based on the relative volumetric energy densities of the two fuels.

  4. Hydrogen will be part of the mix in the future (renewable) energy economy for sure. Good to hear about trial schemes afoot Jon. I agree with your other points btw.

    • Excellent information Jon, I see I will have some reading to do over the weekend.
      Were you aware of the sea water conversion to hydrogen at the point of use by high frequency radio waves?

    • Because government has continued to back and subsidise fossil fuels we haven’t been making the progress that we need, and haven’t learned which renewable technology is going to be the best in different locations.

      I wonder if you might have 12 minutes to view this video on heat pumps. The focus here is upon using the heat in river and sea water to heat a large number of UK homes: –

      We also need a national home insulation programme – properly insulating 2 million homes per annum, driving down gas demand by at least 50%.

      So, if we use heat pumps to get a large proportion of the heat we need and get a large chunk of the methane gas we want from carbon neutral anaerobic digestion of waste products (e.g. sewage and waste grass) then we may not need much hydrogen. But it is very difficult to put precise figures on it yet.

      We just need government to ditch all fossil fuels, ban Fracking and get on with the task of delivering a range of renewables in different locations. We will learn as we go along which method is best, with the winning technologies eventually taking over.

      Having said all of that, we do need seasonal eergy storage, for those winter fortnights when there is little breeze and little sunshine for solar PV so I am pretty sure hydrogen will be playing a big part in delivering that energy storage.

      • Jon. Yes, I saw that… very interesting. It reminds me how, as with so many potential game-changers in the energy scene here, these companies may be being ignored by our government (who are have had their ears bent by the fossil fuel brigade). Other firms too are getting overseas contracts or even selling their innovations to outside interests. The subsidies and incentives seem all wrong here and our carbon targets are not going to be met by a long shot.

      • John, You are wrong to claim that fossil fuels are subsidized,,. The oil & gas industry, whether you like it or not, is a major net tax contributor without which our ability to support public services (& subsidize uncompetitive renewables) would be even more curtailed.
        You are right about encouraging home insulation but the present system just leads to scams & incessant nuisance calls. Control the price of energy up to usage of an average well insulated house but surcharge any additional. Insulation would then clearly pay its way.

        • Rod Jago. I attach a link that shows I am correct and you are wrong.


          Turning to what you have to say about home insulation and I have to say you have got this wrong too. Climate change is the driver here. We have to get that sorted as an absolute priority. If we do not then we will suffer the fate that Prof Stephen Hawkings predicts – our complete extinction.

          So you must completely forget about the grinding insignificance of “nuisance phone calls” and join me in a never ending battle to get government to start an emergency national home insulation programme, working from street to street across every town, city and village in the country.

          • Thank you. Carbon brief is just another activist group “interpreting” facts to promote a cause. Even on their definition of “subsidy” they claim UK “subsidizes” fossil fuels by $6.5 billion (£4.6) but do not mention the £22 billion odd the industry generates in tax revenue.
            Elsewhere they claim that reduced VAT on domestic heating should be counted as a subsidy. The very idea exposes their tactics.
            To be clear; if the Chancellor reduces tax on my beer by 1p a pint my pint is not being subsidized in any normal sense of the word. If he forces the Pub to sell me beer below cost & then compensates the landlord for his loss then, indeed, the pint is subsidized.
            So, I repeat; the Oil & Gas industry is a major net contributor to the Exchequer , wind & solar subsidies are a cost to public funds.
            This is not to say that subsidies are always wrong, after all the NHS is hugely subsidized, & quite right too. We can do this thanks to tax generated by, among others, the O&G sector.

            As to home insulation I respectfully suggest that your “panic” insulation plan would feed scams at an unsustainable cost. My plan gives the better off a financial incentive to insulate while protecting the poor. Please remember that if UK halved her carbon emissions tomorrow it would inflict huge economic damage,mainly on the poor, while making an imperceptible difference to world climate change. Virtue signalling at other people’s expense is not virtuous.

          • Jon, The CB report is the global situation, NOT the UK situation.

            Those claiming the UK fossil fuel industry receives subsidies do so by attempting to redefine the dictionary definition of the word ‘subsidy’. A tax allowance is not a subsidy; *that* is why they are separate word/phrase.

  5. crembrule-the shipment was brought to the UK to meet a short term UK demand that spiked the UK price. When it turned up, that demand had decreased, (was it the Forties pipeline issue, I can’t remember and can’t be bothered to go back to that) but was then replaced by a short term demand in USA which offered much greater margin to move it on. That demand and it’s price spike in the USA did not exist before the shipment left Russia.
    Timelines are key in these sort of situations. Sorry to burst the bubble, but conflating two separate situations to fit a desired outcome can only work if the timelines fit-and they don’t.

    Anyway, the dog is requesting an opportunity to paint the snow yellow, so must go. Have a good weekend.

    • you are correct there were issues with the Forties pipeline and as off the 27th Decemeber it still wasn’t running at capacity which would suggest if there was a UK demand it hadn’t passed at the time the cargo was being reloaded for shipping to the US, further more the Polar Vortex that affected the east coast of the states didn’t start to affect the country until the 2nd or 3rd of January after the shipment had left Grain additionally the tanker didn’t arrive in Boston until the 22nd Jan after the US cold spell had passed. Looks like you have swallowed the Russian propaganda hook line and sinker http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-42493387

  6. In the meantime, one should consider our history/your history and whatever wins the vote in the end, we simply cannot just flick a switch and turn on the renewables, well not yet anyway.

    Without fracking we will get to the shortage episode in our history.
    Without the oil and gas industry we will not move forward into renewables.

    How long do people really think it takes to make a sustainable transition from fossil to renewables ?

    It will not be in the living memory of any campaigner alive today in my opinion.

    Fracking is not the way forward, but it is going forward to gain the end result.

    Wake up people and stop getting in the way of progress with your ban fracking campaigns.

    Who knows, we might all be granted a wind turbine/hydrogen fuel cell generator/heat pump package with every house we buy in the future, but we won’t get there without oil and gas.

    • “It will not be in the living memory of any campaigner alive today in my opinion” I wouldn’t put money on that Paul ! – you overlook the S curve of successful innovation and how rapidly, and how exponentially a new technology, once proven and easily reproducible, can (and will) take off. Witness digital cameras and the demise of Kodak. A few years ago people said yeah yeah we’ll all get electric cars eventually but what about electric passenger planes? … that will never happen. In the last year we see electric two seater trainers, a channel crossing in a single seater, soon to be followed be a 9 seater all electric plane, and the big players are collaborating on a 100 seater hybrid commercial passenger plane (electric engined) by 2030 with a road map for an all electric version.

      Check out Simon’s comment above too. The chance of the UK fracking drive turning into a dog’s dinner of wasteful investment and subsidies chasing marginally successful (if that) outcomes, and leaving a trail of unwanted impacts, is very real and very high risk.

    • Paul, you comment is very pessimistic. Sadly it misses out the biggest reason not to have shale; the Climate Change Accord and our legal requirements to reduce emissions asap.

      In addition, shale gas is a finite source; it’s only lack of support from the current governance that is stopping us ramping up the wind and solar generated power we need to meet the targets, not to mention infinite energy. But that would mean dumping their very sponsors that keep them in power – it would literally ‘bite the hand that feeds them’.

      The good news it is happening but much of the generation is not actually recorded, often under-guesstimated.

      By supporting fracking you are inflicting an invasive and distressing industry on those who believed their homes were somewhere safe to bring up their children or retire from the rat race.

      It is supporting the erosion of the rights of the populous.

      It is a systematic destruction of the countryside including some very important wildlife areas.

      And for what?

      To throw more plastic in the oceans, after being needlessly wrapped around your food and being charged twice for the pleasure, once to bring it home and twice to get rid of it.

      If you are truly that person who has swallowed the spin, or rely on a company that pays you to appear to be that person, then there is nothing I can say to convince you.

      However, if you have any humanity about you, think it through, DYOR and either stand up and be counted or leave your job.

      I was not granted a wind turbine, I bought it. it was the best thing I ever did.
      The easier option:

  7. Hydrogen fuel from water using renewables??? That would make water resources even more scarce. The anti frackers have been arguing frackinf will put strain and threat on water supply. And yet this hydrogen make water supply at risk even more scarce. Using salt water will generate tonnes of salt concentrated wastes and radioactive materials.
    People dont actually realised it. Fossil fuel like nat gas is solar battery storage renewables rolled into one. Sunlight are trap and stored in hydrogen carbon bonds of organic materials of plant planktons and organism which used sunlight to sucked in and lock in CO2. The earth inner heat just cook it into a liquid that can be used as fuel that is all and it takes a long time to cook. And ee burn it release CO2 that can be recycled to regenerate organic materials via sun power. So that sun power renewables for you. It just that we are using too much and too fast. And it take a long time to cook.

    • Duh … hydrogen extracted from water returns to water vapor through combustion. No nasty by products either. Yes hydrocarbons extracted from deep underground are a form of buried (and stored) ancient sunlight but there are problems in releasing the carbon into the earth’s atmosphere at the rate we do.

      • Phillip P….you may think you know it all but water vapour is also very potent green house gas…..very very efficient in trapping heat…..doh…..hahaha.

        • Indeed TW but it returns to nature’s hydrological cycle, while the multiple millions of gallons of water extracted for every frack operation gets severely contaminated and creates serious disposal problems (besides depleting local water supplies and potentially lowering water tables). Meanwhile the amount of water vapor generated through hydrogen fuel combustion would be minuscule compared to the daily cycle of evaporation and transpiration found in nature. Good to raise that point though.

  8. Pleas read my post again.


    We will still need fossil fuel until this time. FACT.

    It’s not pessimism, it’s looking at the situation in a sensible rational manner.

    • Why think your post wasn’t read Paul? My immediate thought about your argument that ‘we simply cannot just flick a switch and turn on the renewables’ was that this applies even more so for shale gas. Do you think it’s a s easy as sticking a pipe in the ground and opening a valve? It means developing a whole new industry for onshore unconventional gas – with thousands of wells before it becomes a game changer – that’s some switch to flick. It’s nothing like tapping into a huge ready made reservoir.

    • You are a credulous believer in spurious science. Anyone who uses the word FACT to win an argument has missed the point completely. Events are passing you by but you are focused on a narrow idea that may have been true for a short while in 2010, but is certainly not true now.

      • Rwthless, are you saying it is NOT a fact that however rapidly renewables advance we will need some oil & gas for years to come?
        Perhaps you prefer that it be imported & assume the economy will take care of itself?

        • Rod,

          Please look at the COP21 Paris climate change agreement and do a bit of research into what the wealthy world demanded in order to sign up to keeping temperatures to “well below 2C” of warming. Nations like the UK said they would only agree to “well below 2C” if it was based upon the deployment of “negative emissions” technology – which hasn’t been invented yet!.

          Every ton of CO2 that is dumped into the atmosphere by a new area of fossil fuel source (e.g. Fracking) has to be taken out again using negative emissions technologies after the year 2050. There is absolutely no way that Amber Rudd and Theresa May were willing to pay that incredible bill – they demanded that your grandchildren should pay it.

          Some trials are underway and the best guess we have at the moment is that these ‘negative emissions’ could cost around $535 Trillion. Yes – that ‘trillion’ not ‘billion’.

          Those who campaign against Fracking are working damn hard to save your grandchildren from having to pay that bill.

          So we in the UK need to transition to the renewables damn fast. Not a penny must be wasted on Fracked gas.

          • If the Paris Agreement requires us to use a technology not yet invented & pay trillions of pounds if it is not then it is even dafter than I thought!
            By all means use some of the tax revenue from home produced oil on research into COMPETITIVELY priced clean energy but meanwhile we should encourage home produced gas. If we can make a success of fracking we can replace some of our polluting coal fired power generation with gas & by our example perhaps encourage Germany to do the same. More ambitiously we might encourage some of the 1,600 coal plants planned or under construction in 62 countries to switch to gas. That would REALLY help to reduce emissions.
            Those who campaign against fracking are working damn hard to wreck our economy & leave our grandchildren with an even greater National Debt.
            If we rush into renewable energy & burden our economy with uncompetitive costs, the world will not follow such folly & the effect on world emissions will be minuscule.

  9. Jon, I thought the Leeds £2 billion plan was to obtain hydrogen from methane within the National Gas Grid supply, not from water. That is why I referenced Oxford and Cambridge who have made suggestions that the way forward is not to ditch fossil fuel but to decarbonise it.

    I liked the idea of that as it would bring huge resources to do it, from those companies involved currently in fossil fuels. The alternative of start up companies, government grants (taxpayers!) funding it means it either won’t happen, or will take a long time to achieve.

    Strangely, I have a close relative who lives in the Leeds area and is involved in the energy supply industry, and he knows very little about this plan, so I suspect it is still some way off.

    Hydrogen for vehicles will, I believe, overtake electric pretty quickly. The problem with electric vehicles is it takes as long, or longer, to “fuel” them as to make the journey, and although improvements are being made that remains a big problem. If people want to drive from London to Edinburgh they need to feel they can refuel at a service station (once) in the same time it would take them to do so with petrol or diesel. Twenty vehicles being recharged together within three minutes or so, for electric, is a problem that has a long way to go to be solved.

    • The H21 programme plans to get hydrogen from steam methane reforming and then capture the CO2 and sequester it under the North Sea (CCS). Unfortunately CCS isn’t doing well globally and the technology may turn out to be only capable of capturing around half of the CO2. But we need to capture all CO2 if we are to avoid runaway climate change.

      So, rather than take the CCS route, we need to look at safer options. I have no objection to large scale trials but we must assume it probably won’t work.

      The best option is therefore to use a range of renewable technologies to supply all our needs. For example we can use wind turbines to power heat pumps to provide most of the heat we need. But we also need to keep the gas grid intact but, instead of using fossil fuel gas, we should be using a mixture of hydrogen obtained from the renewables and biogas obtained using anaerobic digestion of waste materials like sewage and waste grass. We know that hydrogen can be mixed safely with methane because it is done in Singapore and Hong Kong.

      As part of the H21 trial work will shortly begin in the UK on converting some homes to hydrogen and in others areas we will be testing how much hydrogen we can safely mix within the gas grid to ensure that existing gas boilers and gas cookers can cope. It will keep costs down if we don’t have to replace all the UK’s boilers and cookers.

      As for transport, my bet is on battery electric winning the car market but hydrogen winning the bus & HGV market. Time will tell.

  10. A few assumptions there Jon. I know the idea was for CCS, but there are other methods of dealing with CO2 under development which I suspect will overtake CCS. Carbon is a pretty valuable commodity and that will probably drive those methods forward.
    I also remember lots of those who wanted to promote biogas, but failed to mention when a scheme goes into liquidation and who picks up the decommissioning cost. Equally, imposition of land based wind turbines in vast numbers has no more social licence than on shore oil and gas, with some now facing demolition. Wood pellets and biodiesel hardly a success either.
    Lot’s of potential problems within this type of development. Hence my own preference for the fossil fuel route to produce the hydrogen. Deeper pockets to fund during development and to avoid the taxpayer picking up the tabs when things go wrong.

    • Martin – I can only tell you what the industry and government intend with the H21 project. If it were down to me we would be getting the hydrogen from wind power.

      If technology develops and we find a commercial CCU application (Carbon Capture & Usage) then we can transition to that but we don’t have much at the moment. Until we have something large scale, we can only depend upon the renewables to save us from runaway climate change.

      Turning to what you have to say about wind turbines you are as usual wrong. Please look at the BEIS opinion poll tracker. That consistently shows huge public support for wind power and a clear majority against Fracking.

      As for decommissioning of Ecotricity’s Green Gas projects – please show me one that has gone bust ! They haven’t. More companies are moving into the sector all the time. The latest is getting biogas from sewage.

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