Readers’ letters - Thursday, September 10

A fracking rig

A fracking rig

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Doubt over need for shale

Central Lancashire Friends of the Earth would like an opportunity to respond to Tuesday’s feature by Andrea Leadsom (LEP September 1).

Having begun her article with the sweeping statement “Shale gas is a fantastic opportunity for the UK”, the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change goes on to make more unsubstantiated claims, not the least of which is that more than 60,000 jobs will be created and billions of pounds will be provided for the UK economy.

Could we ask how the minister knows this? These figures can only be conjecture. The UK Energy Research Centre has said that shale gas has been “completely oversold” and promises of lower prices and greater energy security are “lacking in evidence”.

Friends of the Earth’s view is that discussions about the role of gas in the future should start by asking, “How much gas do we need?” rather than, “Where can we get our gas from?” The world has far greater known reserves of fossil fuels than we can afford to burn if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change. Indeed, the Governor of the Bank of England has said: “The vast majority of reserves are unburnable”.

In a report by Friends of the Earth, No Need to Step on the Gas, you can see that the UK will be importing some gas in 2030, whether or not we drill for shale.

With demand reduction we can meet our needs and stay secure, primarily from Norwegian sources of gas.

Renewable energy is vital in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. Friends of the Earth is concerned about accuracy in Ms Leadsom’s article.

She states that, by 2020, renewable energy is on course to provide 15 per cent of UK energy. In fact renewable energy sources are already producing 19 per cent of the UK’s energy. In the UK as a whole, employment in renewable energy increased by nine per cent up to May this year, bringing the total number working in the industry to 112,026 (Renewable Energy Association figures).

The minister argues that the UK has more than 50 years of drilling experience, as indeed it does. It does not, however, have any experience of gas extraction on land by high pressure fracturing of shale rock. She advises Lancashire County Council to “trust that the regulators responsible for shale gas development will enforce their safety, health, environmental and seismic regulations effectively”. Why? Why should they trust them?

An in depth report published by the RSPB states: “Our analysis suggests the current regulatory regime is unable to adequately manage serious environmental risks that may arise from individual projects and cumulative developments.”

Ms Leadsom states that “it’s just not true” that the Government intends to by-pass local democracy and autonomy, yet the SaFE Alliance (Safety In Fossil Fuel Exploitation) states that: “The policy creates presumptions in favour of the need and safety of fracking, while also giving the government expansive new powers to override local decisions that go against fracking applications. This approach wholly contradicts the government’s localism agenda and will have a dramatic impact on local people and their surroundings.”

We do not accept that “the potential impacts of fracking are the same as many industrial activities”. There is a wealth of knowledge available to dispute that view. We urge people to do their own research.

A recently published report from DEFRA said: “ Shale gas extraction may transform a previously pristine and quiet natural region, bringing increased industrialisation. As a result, rural community businesses that rely on clean air, land, water and/or tranquil environment may suffer losses from this change.”

Finally we object to the heading of the article, speaking as it does only of “natural gas” without any mention of shale gas. We believe strongly that there is every reason to doubt the UK’s need for fracked shale gas.

Aidan Turner-Bishop, joint co-ordinator Central Lancashire Friends of the Earth

Wheel helped after accident

Six years ago, I was hit by a car while cycling. I sustained a broken neck, nose and other injuries.

I was a very competent cyclist cycling coach and a member of a cycling club for 40 years.

My confidence shattered, I never thought I would ride again.

After three years of recovery, one of the main instigators and fundraisers for the Guild Wheel, Peter Ward, introduced me to the Wheel, which gave me the confidence to ride again on this traffic-free environment, of which I have done over 50 times.

It is the best thing to happen for helping Preston get cycling. For families with young children, and as a Bikeability instructor at local schools, it would be a sheer tragedy if the building of new houses and busier road infrastructure could ruin this unique 21-mile traffic-free route.

Please help save this.

Ian Hodges via email

Return cone to rightful place

If the person who took one of the police cones from Tabley Lane is reading this, I hope they are very proud of themselves.

These police cones have been put in place, with the authority of the police, for a specific purpose.

The purpose being to stop the HGV traffic on Tabley Lane using the footpath as an escape route when they meet an oncoming HGV travelling in the opposite direction. Pedestrians use this footpath, and the cones are in place to try to avoid anyone being seriously hurt by one of these HGVs. If the person or persons responsible have any conscience whatsoever, they will kindly return the cone to its rightful place on the footpath on Tabley Lane.

Ellen Moon via email

Dancers were entertaining

I was in the Flag Market on Saturday, watching the various groups of morris dancers and clog dancers. They were very colourful to watch and the music was very good.

The 144 dancers dancing the same dance for over five minutes was absolutely fantastic. Well done to all the dancers who took part in the record attempt. You made my afternoon so enjoyable.

A huge thank you to all who took part.

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