Fracking perils made clear
A chap from Lytham, known as Gayzer Frackman, set off to walk from Blackpool Football Ground to Downing Street, where he planned to give the Prime Minister a cheque for £10,000. Theresa May had offered a £10,000 sweetener to selected home owners in Lancashire affected by fracking. His £10,000 is a sweetener to the PM to ban it!
Why does he feel it important to spend so much of his time, effort and cash on what must surely be a futile effort to make the Government change its mind? Well, the answer was made clear in an excellent series of presentations hosted at the Harris Museum.
Most people assume fracking will be confined to one or two sites across the county and it won’t affect them. However, Tony Ingraffea’s paper, drawing on 10 years’ experience of fracking in the US, paints a different picture.
For fracking to be commercially viable, there needs to be well pads every few miles so, in the Fylde, we can expect to see 50 or more sites. Each site would be host to upwards of eight individual drilling wells, their associated fresh-water supply, waste-water disposal and chemical stores. They will each need to be serviced by roads to take supplies onto the site, and by an extensive network of pipelines, compressor stations and ancillary equipment to take the gas and oil away. And the sites operate all day, every day.
This isn’t an industry you have to live with – it’s one we’ll all be living in – constantly.
In short, the rural landscape we know today will vanish.
There are now over 800 peer-reviewed studies. Around three quarters of those point to a decline in air quality, water quality and overall public health attributable to the industry.
But surely, tougher planning regulations in the UK would stop that happening over here? Tony’s answer was that every planning authority in every state in the US has said exactly the same before the industry moved in. It hadn’t worked for the US, why should we assume it’s going to work for us? And his advice? You’ll never stop it once it has a foothold. Nip it in the bud !
Debra Davidson’s research is based on experience of fracking as told in the stories of some of the people who have to live with it – this time in Alberta, Canada.
The picture that emerges is one of proud farming communities with strong links to the land.
In the early days, the frackers had been welcomed as bringing much-needed money and employment. Then came groundwater pollution with livestock and produce badly affected. The first reaction was anger when the fracking companies refused to accept responsibility. Farmers tried to take on the corporate might of companies through the courts. Requests for help from Government were ignored, because Government themselves had become dependent on industry revenues.
Finally, farmers felt they had no choice but to turn their backs on it and leave.
Anna Szolucha’s paper looked at the impact which the plans have already had on the people of Lancashire.
She found the planning process has divided the community between a relatively small number of owners who benefit directly and a greater number of residents who fear the risks to environment, health, livelihood and property prices as a result of living close to the fracking operations. Among residents, there is a widespread feeling of stress brought on by the twists and turns of a planning process which began in 2009.
Relief on hearing that Lancashire County had turned down the planning application to drill at Roseacre and Great Plumpton, in June 2015, quickly turned to anger when the Secretary of State announced he intended to take the decision out of Lancashire’s hands altogether.
Many found themselves distrustful of the democratic process and are now convinced central Government is determined to impose fracking on the community, come what may.
So going back to my friend from Lytham – maybe we should have been walking with him?
Tony Balmer via email
Party in worst crisis since 1931
A leaked copy of the agenda of the forthcoming Labour Conference makes fascinating reading.
Corbyn and his acolytes will be discussing the usual subjects beloved of the Labour Party. They include: opposing grammar schools; abolishing our independent nuclear deterrent (ignorance is bliss); demanding the abolition of the arms trade, and disarmament. The last two are as likely as Corbyn ever becoming Prime Minister.
The agenda is the typical Labour list of subjects that betray ignorance and the unattainable. Corbyn will, of course, be elected. The fact that the party is in the worst crisis since it won only 52 seats in the 1931 general election will be ignored by the faithful.
The Labour Party has been captured by the hard left. It no longer is recognisable as a government in waiting. Power in the party has become the priority, not winning power by general elections. Young activists, many of whom come from affluent middle class homes, believe policy should be made by popular will. Accommodation with capitalism is unthinkable.
Soon the NEC will be purged of those who know Corbyn is unelectable. MPs who won’t toe the line will be deselected and the shadow cabinet will have at least one third of its members from the hard left.
A split in the party is unlikely. Who could lead it? However, although Labour is unelectable, it is not indestructible. A breakaway parliamentary faction could become the official opposition.
A new book has just been published about Clem Attlee. Clem became a socialist by working among the poor of the East End. He advocated a strong defence and collective security. He believed in the nuclear deterrent and NATO. Corbynisters believe in pacifism and isolationism. Labour is now in critical condition. Its leader is a peacenik utopian. The Labour ship is already several fathoms below the waves.
Dr Barry Clayton via email
Use British technology
Readers, the Hinkley Point Power Station should be built using British technology, not technology from France or China.
Sign a petition to the Government. Go to www.petitions24.com and sign a petition created on September 16, titled Hinkley Point Power Station.
F.E.Sharpe, address supplied