Politics

“Fracking is over” – UK energy minister

200618 kwasi kwarteng slider

The UK energy minister said this evening that fracking was over and the government had “moved on”.

Kwasi Kwarteng was speaking during an interview about a cryogenic battery facility that will store renewable energy.

Asked by Roger Johnson, of BBC North West Tonight, whether a shift to renewables marked the end of fracking, the minister said:

“We had a moratorium on fracking last year and frankly the debate’s moved on. It is not something that we’re looking to do.

“We’ve always said we’d be evidence-backed so if there was a time when the science evidence changed our minds we would be open to that. But for now, fracking is over.”

The moratorium, introduced in England in November 2019 and still in force, was a response to seismic activity induced by fracking at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool.

On August bank holiday in 2019, the company’s operations caused the UK’s strongest fracking-induced earth tremor, measuring 2.9ML. It was felt across the region and there were nearly 200 reports of damage to buildings made to the British Geological Survey.

In this evening’s interview, the minister was pressed: “So, you’re saying that’s it?”

Mr Kwarteng replied:

“I said that there was a moratorium that we did at the end of last year.”

The interviewer asked:

“And you’ve moved on?”

Mr Kwarteng said:

“We’ve moved on, yes, exactly.”

In March 2020, Cuadrilla withdrew equipment from the Preston New Road site. Last month, it predicted there would be no fracking at the site in 2020 and it was looking at “conventional” opportunities.

Opponents of Cuadrilla’s operation welcomed Mr Kwarteng’s comments this evening.

Susan Holliday, chair of Preston New Road Action Group, said:

“This is positive news for communities that have been living under the cloud of fracking for years. We have always believed that the science did not support it, and it seems that the government are coming to that view too.

“Cuadrilla should now restore the site at Preston New Road so that our community can put the nightmare of fracking behind us. Renewable energy has got to be the answer to our future energy needs.”

Claire Stephenson, of Frack Free Lancashire, said:

“It’s good to hear that the government have finally caught up with public opinion and science to say that fracking is over.

“Although it isn’t a permanent ban, common sense and a climate emergency will dictate fracking won’t resurface.

“The most expensive fracking experiment in the UK, happened on our doorstep here in Lancashire and resulted in millions of pounds of cash and drillers’ dreams being invested into, essentially, two deep and dirty holes in what was once pristine agricultural land.

“What remains of the company Cuadrilla, must now restore that land and officially leave our community forever.”

Dr Frank Rugman, who lives near the Preston New Road site, said:

“Following the induced earthquakes, it became obvious to all rational observers that fracking should never have been forced upon our communities.

“This evening’s news of a belated government U-turn on fracking, only confirms that the future lies in the generation of clean renewable electricity supported by efficient battery storage.”

Joe Corre, of the campaign group Talk Fracking, said:

“A fracking moratorium on the basis of seismicity as a pre-election stunt is not the same as a full fracking ban due to fracking finally being considered by the Government as dirty fossil fuel causing climate change. That’s what needs to happen.

“The energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng may say ‘fracking is over’ for now, but INEOS, the biggest holder of fracking licences in the UK, which they paid good money for, is still waiting cap in hand for the verdict of their delayed planning application for shale gas exploration in Woodsetts.

“A lot can change depending on how that goes. If they win, then suddenly fracking is back on the agenda. If they lose, then Sir Jim will most definitely launch an appeal.

“Meanwhile, INEOS has just purchased interests to frack Texas, U.S.A. with the view of importing fracked gas, or LPG, into the UK to power their plastics plants. The circular argument from Sir Jim to the Government will ultimately be, “Isn’t it cheaper for the UK to produce it’s own fracked gas or LPG rather than rely on imports from the U.S.A?

“The devil in the detail of the upcoming Brexit negotiations will be very interesting in terms what could change Government policy overnight back in favour of “fracking” – or some other terminology which allows for extreme energy extraction – and let the dirty frackers like INEOS creep back in”.

DrillOrDrop invited Cuadrilla, IGas and Ineos, the three leading shale gas companies, to comment on Mr Kwarteng’s interview.

The minister said the CryoBattery facility, at Carrington, in Manchester, marked a move from fossil fuels to renewables. He said:

“This year I think we went for two months without any coal generated power whatsoever so the shift from fossil fuels is happening. I think the cryogenic battery is actually a step in that direction. And I think this is really welcome.”

The facility will be one of the world’s first commercial liquid air batteries. It could store enough energy to power 200,000 homes for up to 5 hours. Its capacity is double that of Tesla’s largest chemical battery in south Australia.

The Manchester plant has attracted a £10 million government grant and is due to start operating in 2022.

It will use surplus energy from renewable sources to chill the air, turning it into a liquid. When extra power is needed, the liquid air is released and turns back into a gas, driving a turbine to provide electricity.

Updated 19/6/2020 to include comment from Dr Frank Rugman and Joe Corre

 

 

 

 

76 replies »

  1. I was involved too, but from the perspective of geology, in particular, but not restricted to, radon. Indeed since then I am much more aware of how our immune systems are supported by essential micro nutrients, many of which are related to geology.

      • Copper is also linked to having an antibiotic effect. I was quite surprised to discover this. One of the issues I have known about since being a teenager is that livestock on the Bowland Shales suffer from copper deficiency. Copper has to be supplemented in livestock diets. Some years later I learnt it was the molybdenum in the shales that locked up copper, preventing it from being bioavailable.

        • Careful, Dr. Nick. Next we will have certain “geologists” returning to the risk of selenium poisoning from PNR!

          There has been so much wolf crying around PNR, it is hardly surprising that house damage is being treated with some skepticism.

          • Martin Collyer, I have been exposed to Bowland Shale probably more than anyone else through a lifetime, except the farmers who farm on it & draw their local water supply from sandstones within it, some of who I know. I have had chicken, mussels & mushrooms this week. So my body is either very tolerant to selenium, or it is not harmful, except in excessively extreme doses.

            • Yes, and I used to deal with large quantities of selenium that had been produced for animal nutrition, so was interested from that perspective regarding the PNR selenium-or, as it turned out-lack of! Your last few words are the reality. Just like NaCl. I used to deal with that, as well, by the truck load.

              Mind you, once the health issue around cobalt were clarified, we banned that immediately. Unfortunately, it has found another use in other industries so the health issues continue.

  2. By the way, Chris, neither the BGS or Drill or Drop would breach confidentiality protocols by making individuals identifiable.
    That somewhat limits their coverage but that’s how it is.
    You’re more than welcome to give me your email via Ruth and I’ll send you some photos of damage and estimates for repairs.

  3. Yes, copper is important for mammalian white cell function, well documented in cattle: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S003452881830643X

    I was a co-author in an early paper on human neutrophil function in the context of the stimulating ‘hormone’ GCSF. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Effects-of-recombinant-human-granulocyte-factor-on-Humphreys-Rugman/1451c30ed320eb1f6f3b2c43141ad26ab9eca159

    and later:

    https://pmj.bmj.com/content/69/817/885.short

  4. I’m afraid that in these days of fake facts and information I give little credibility to hearsay evidence, for instance I would need independent surveyors endorsement of claimed damage to property. To suggest that I have ‘blind faith in fracking at all costs’ is wholly unjustified by my comments, in fact I have supported an evidential and objective approach to the issue.
    What I have done is to crticise the proliferation of unsupported allegations, purporting to be facts, to support opinions that are grounded in blind belief rather than reality. My ‘shallow and opinionated’ comment was not intended personally for Dr Rugman but as my opinion of the overall quality of the arguments presented to support belief rather than reality.
    However, I agree that the debate has been stimulating and interesting.

    • But you yourself requested examples of property damage to be immediately described here on theses pages ?
      Drill or Drop: ”Mark Mills, who lives on Preston New Road, said the seismic event – the largest ever in the UK induced by fracking – caused cracks to his home.”
      Which part of ‘cracks to his home’ do you not understand, in your own words, as ‘actual damage caused’ ?
      Moreover, I see that another local resident, Peter Roberts, has also attempted to explain to you the documented induced seismic structural damage to his own home and the limitations of published disclosure regarding his ongoing legal case.
      Others may judge if your demand for immediate publication here of ”independent surveyors endorsement of claimed damage to property’ ‘is a reasonable request, in these legal circumstances.
      What I have done is to evaluate the proliferation of reflex assertions from pro-frackers, which imply that this industry is perfect, always entirely safe and always free from any risk to property (or health).Those of us who have published peer-reviewed scientific papers on matters of chemical toxicity will understand that no industrial process is without hazard. However, pro-fracking opinions are often grounded in an uncritical blind faith in fracking, rather than reality.
      Best of luck with that.

  5. ‘However, pro-fracking opinions are often grounded in an uncritical blind faith in fracking, rather than reality.’……. possibly so by some, however the same could equally apply to those who oppose the reality of our future energy needs.

    • But neither I, nor the minister who states that ”fracking is over’ have ever denied the reality of our future energy needs.

      As above, Mr Kwarteng has just belatedly correctly identified the necessary shift from fossils to renewable electricity: .
      .
      “This year I think we went for two months without any coal generated power whatsoever so the shift from fossil fuels is happening. I think the cryogenic battery is actually a step in that direction. And I think this is really welcome.”

      I do hope that this helps you.
      I note that you are apparently writing very late into the night.@ 4:09 am ?
      My medical advice to you would be that perhaps you need to take more rest ?

      Stay safe.

      .

      • Or could ‘Chris Brown’ be contributing from another time zone, maybe Australasia?

        Everybody knows you and I live within the Fylde Dr. Rugman, maybe ‘Chris Brown’ should declare his true location and the reason for his interest before interacting further?

          • Oh, just like a few of the antis, Dr. Frank, should declare their locations and associations??!!

            I suspect if you edited out such on both sides of the debate you could close down this section.

            Oh, by the way, you do not need to be Australian to purchase AJL shares. Not inclined myself, but certainly have other Australian investments, and I live a long way away from Australia. Can even do so on line. Welcome to the real world, where many even invest in businesses they do not support, but just happen to be a good investment-in their eyes.
            People can even comment upon matters without being an investor, or an expert. Good job really, as most of the antis admit they know little about the subject. Maybe your medical knowledge could indicate how and why individuals make a decision about something they know little about. Seems they do so even more frequently now on line than they used to do down the pub. A subset to the medical determination for the overall condition?

            • Mr Collyer,

              Are you referring to me:?

              Then please do keep up, because I have always fully disclosed my location & opinion etc.

              For example, this is also clearly stated in Ruth’s above article:

              ” Dr Frank Rugman, who lives near the Preston New Road site, said:

              “Following the induced earthquakes, it became obvious to all rational observers that fracking should never have been forced upon our communities.

              “This evening’s news of a belated government U-turn on fracking, only confirms that the future lies in the generation of clean renewable electricity supported by efficient battery storage.”

              But we do wonder about your own position and interests Mr Collyer ?
              Fortunately, according to the minister, this fantasy of fracking appears to be over.

              Stay safe.

              • No, I was not referring to you, Dr. Frank. Sorry, you have not posted so much over the last few years, so I could not have come to that conclusion. Others have, and exposed their position, hence my comment. Not unusual, is it? Facebook “friends” are very often not what they seem, either.

                I suggest if you had read my posts you would have been more knowledgeable regarding my interests. I have made them quite clear-quite recently repeated in a comment to Jon.

                In summary, Dr. Frank, I-like you-use gas and oil and by-products currently. Whilst I continue to do so, which I suspect I will until I pop my clogs, I am interested in how such are produced to mitigate against any negative impacts and to maximise revenue for UK-as I like business paying more tax in a way that does not force it overseas, and me less. (One way is to have that business in UK, rather than overseas. Then, such revenue can help fund UK NHS rather than export the revenue to others and UK then borrows the money back!) I am equally interested in how my food is produced and would prefer my veggies to come from my garden or the local farm shop, rather than flown in from Kenya, or trucked up from Spain.

                Now, I recognise it is convenient to post that energy production is only a local issue, but you know, Peter knows and so do most others, it is not. If it was, then those in the Fylde would have no interest in the Weald, but they do.

                [Edited by moderator]

                • [Edited by moderator]
                  However, I do agree with the minister:
                  “This year I think we went for two months without any coal generated power whatsoever so the shift from fossil fuels is happening. I think the cryogenic battery is actually a step in that direction. And I think this is really welcome.”

                • Well, Dr. Frank, nice that you agree. However, you and the minister, conveniently miss how much coal was used in China to manufacture stuff for the UK, that might have been better for the environment if made in the UK. Did the largest container ship in the world arrive in the UK very recently? I think there is a certain young lady from Sweden who has given us the benefit of her wisdom in that respect. (Exporting a carbon footprint was the way she referenced it.) But, unfortunately with UK cost of energy, that will not happen unless imposed, and then the public will reject that imposition when they realise how much they are expected to pay. It has already happened in other countries eg. Australia.

                  I quite like some of the little steps being taken. However, they are little steps and are a long way from being anything like a full solution. Drax converting to GAS compared to one small cryogenic battery. Do the maths. I like my air sourced heat pump but I note some are talking about them being the solution in large housing developments! Well, my physics would indicate there is a problem there, which might explain why new housing developments are still largely being constructed with gas central heating.

                  [Edited by moderator]

                • Mr Collyer,

                  [Edited by moderator] Let us return to the fact of the abject failure of UK fracking:

                  1.Whitehall’s spending watchdog found that attempts to establish fracking in the UK had cost the taxpayer at least £32m so far, without producing any energy in return.

                  2.HMG said it would not agree to any future fracking “until compelling new evidence is provided” that proves fracking could be safe.
                  The UK’s only active fracking site at Little Plumpton was halted after fracking induced multiple earthquakes that breached government limits

                  3.The OGA report also warned it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes induced by fracking.

                  4.HMG has also warned shale gas companies it would not support future fracking projects, .

                  5.The decision was taken after a new scientific study warned it was not possible to rule out “unacceptable” consequences for those living near fracking sites.

                  6.The UK Energy Minister has stated recently that ” fracking is over ”.

                  I do hope that this summary is helpful.

                  Stay safe.

                • [Edited by moderator]

                  Your summary is interesting, but extremely subjective and selective.

                  I would tend to agree that fracking in UK is over for the time being. I could give my reasons but they would be equally subjective and selective. It comes down to opinions, and so there are as many of those as there are people who want to make them known. Trying to censor those with different opinions does not strengthen your own. The ” unless you live locally” attempt is just lame. It would mean Man. Utd. would have very few at home matches, pre or post Covid!

                • Mr Collyer

                  I note that you finally agree to the reality that ”fracking is over.”
                  [Edited by moderator]
                  In fact, I was an expert witness for the courts for many years and I always sought second opinions without hesitation.

                  [Edited by moderator]

                  Now, let us revert to the more substantive matter of the abject failure of UK fracking:?

                  A. Please kindly indicate precisely when/where I used the phrase ”unless you live locally”

                  B. When (and how could I ?) ” censor those with different opinions’.?

                  C. Please kindly indicate precisely which of the 6 points in my summary, repeated below were ”extremely subjective and selective.”

                  1.Whitehall’s spending watchdog found that attempts to establish fracking in the UK had cost the taxpayer at least £32m so far, without producing any energy in return.

                  2.HMG said it would not agree to any future fracking “until compelling new evidence is provided” that proves fracking could be safe.
                  The UK’s only active fracking site at Little Plumpton was halted after fracking induced multiple earthquakes that breached government limits

                  3.The OGA report also warned it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes induced by fracking.

                  4.HMG has also warned shale gas companies it would not support future fracking projects, .

                  5.The decision was taken after a new scientific study warned it was not possible to rule out “unacceptable” consequences for those living near fracking sites.

                  6.The UK Energy Minister has stated recently that ” fracking is over ”..

                  I do look forward to your reply.

                  Stay safe !

                • Anyone threatened with this outrageous industry is entitled to comment on and oppose something that may in future be forced upon their community as a result of activities at PNR and other potential fracking sites. PNR is/was after all a torchbearer site for the fracking industry and its geographically dispersed investors

  6. As far as I know there are no pre-qualifications for contributing here. However to satisft your curiosity, I live in Furness, just across the bay. I have no financial or other connection to any Fracking organisation. I have an engineering background with a post graduate qualification in Systems Engineering. This has led me to seek out the objective and real facts of a situation and to challenge where those are abused or ignored – as is prevalent here. I see little to be gained by further involvement here, the closed minds are firmly locked, So I bid you farewell – have fun in your delusions.

    • Bye Bye Chris,

      The British Geological Survey don’t record delusions as Hydrofrac Earthquakes. Delusions don’t cause property damage that is repaired at great expense by insurance cover for Earthquake damage.

      [Edited by moderator]

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