LETTER: The REAL facts about fracking

WOODSETTS Against Fracking (WAF) write in response to Brett Ainsworth’s letter (October 26), in which he declared “Time to back the frack with facts”.

WAF has always encouraged open debate and recognised opposing views in relation to fracking and how it is likely to impact on local communities. Indeed, we always encourage interested parties not to simply take us at our word, but to do their own research and reach their own conclusions. We are sorry to say however, that in his submission, Mr Ainsworth provided very little in the way of facts; or not accurate facts at any rate.

Mr Ainsworth made several points which are addressed here in turn:

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1. Most of our imported gas is “shipped from the Middle East” after being bought from “the Arabs”.

Latest figures show that 44 per cent of our gas comes from our own North Sea production, 47pc reaches us by pipeline from Norway and only around nine per cent comes via ship from Qatar.

It may also be pertinent to note that gas usage in the UK has fallen dramatically in recent years thanks to better insulation in homes, more energy efficient appliances and a move to alternative forms of energy. It is forecast to fall by a further 25pc by 2025.

2. The “value of property prices in places like Woodsetts is reduced because of the stink caused by ill-informed WAF campaigners against fracking”.

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Hopefully, by the end of this letter, most readers will have come to the conclusion that WAF is far from ill-informed.

That apart, numerous studies from the US and in the UK, acknowledge that fracking has a negative impact on house prices in the vicinity. Even the Government’s own report, Shale Gas Rural Economy Impact Paper (July 2015) says: “House prices in close proximity to the drilling operations are likely to fall. There could be a seven per cent reduction in property values within one mile of an extraction site.”

Estate Agents have forecast anything between ten-70 per cent reduction in house values. It is not the anti-fracking banners and opposition that create the devaluation, it is the dangers and industrialisation of fracking itself.

3. Mr Ainsworth talks about former coal mining in our area and the ongoing subsidence that is a legacy of it. In doing so he attempts to suggest that shale gas extraction will not carry the same risk. He neglects however, to address the seismic movements that are triggered by fracking.

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A couple of weeks ago Caudrilla commenced fracking at Preston New Road in Lancashire. In just 12 days since operations commenced, there have been 31 Earthquakes. Imagine those earthquakes taking place beneath old, abandoned, unstable mine-workings that are vulnerable to subsidence. Then imagine your house on top of it!

4. It is true that burning gas in power stations releases less CO2 than burning coal, but in terms of the release of greenhouse gases, this is not the whole story. If we take account of the Methane that escapes from shale gas wells during and after extraction (fugitive emissions), gas is as bad or worse than coal for the environment. Methane is 86 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year period.

5. Wind turbines do not take 30 years to pay back the Carbon and energy invested in making them. Recent studies show that they achieve this after around six months of operation.

6. Gas power stations may be responsive to peaks and troughs in grid demand, but there are many other ways to achieve this, such as batteries like that installed by Tesla in South Australia, elevated water reservoirs, compressed air and thermal energy storage.

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7. Under no circumstances would the gas extracted be “free” as suggested by Mr Ainsworth. All gas is traded on International markets and prices are set according to supply and demand. Shale gas reserves are not large enough to influence prices. What’s more, we would need to drill 1000 wells every year to be independent of gas imports. Just imagine the mass industrialisation of our countryside if that were to happen.

In any case, any gas extracted in Woodsetts wouldn’t get anywhere near your gas pipes. Ineos admits on its own website, that the shale gas it extracts will be used to make plastic.

8. Water is not the only substance pumped into the ground to frack shale rock. A multitude of chemicals are used in the mix and a proportion of the water comes back to the surface contaminated with salts and heavy metals, even arsenic. Fracking risks contamination of water supplies as has happened many times in the US.

9. And finally, the most inaccurate fact of all in Mr Ainsworth’s letter, which perhaps gives us a clue as to the credibility of his views as a whole — “H2O is a part of our lives, we breathe it in and out all the time we live”. H2O is the chemical composition of water Mr Ainsworth, so we may be in trouble if we try to breathe it!

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In conclusion, WAF absolutely refute Mr Ainsworth’s label of our group as "traitorous". Faced with the recent IPCC report which gives us only 12 years to act on climate change, we believe we are doing what every responsible citizen of the UK should be doing by calling on the Government to ban fracking and pursue available, alternative green energy solutions. The traitors are those who put profit before planet and dismiss the ever-growing evidence of the destructive nature of the fracking industry.

Mr Ainsworth is invited to join us at the next meeting of WAF. He can visit www.woodsettsagainstfracking.co.uk for details.

Woodsetts Against Fracking

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