Latest blog from Shaun.
News that the Government is stepping up its campaign to promote fracking through financial incentives to local authorities and communities has reignited the debate about this controversial energy source. However, in my opinion, supporters of fracking will have an uphill struggle to persuade the public.
From a PR point of view, it all starts with the name. Has there ever been a more apocalyptic sounding source of energy?! Even if it was the most benign process ever, it would still ring alarm bells to me. The thought of doing “fracking” or “hydraulic fracturing” to anything makes me think that some serious damage must be being done somewhere.
The second thing is that it is likely to take place mainly in the countryside, often on the edge of villages or towns. Recent research shows that the overwhelming majority of people don’t want fracking on their doorstep, and we’ve already seen significant demonstrations where fracking is proposed, which are only likely to get worse.
In addition, evidence demonstrates that fracking causes earth tremors and may also lead to water contamination and pollution. Until we know more, I think most people would be pretty alarmed to think that fracking could lead to problems like these where they and their families live. In fact, as fracking has been banned in France, surely the process itself should be a cause for concern in this country too?
These days, most people accept that human-made climate change is taking place, so it is puzzling why the Government is looking to subsidise new and controversial fossil fuels which contribute to carbon emissions. It’s a shame that, despite all the warning signs, they are still thinking more about short term profit than protecting the environment for future generations. There is no guarantee that fracking will bring down energy bills and, given the set up of the energy market, I should think lower bills are highly unlikely. Besides, is cheaper energy from fossil sources something we should be aiming for?
Of course the obvious question after all this is, if not fracking then what? A head-in-the-sand energy policy in this country for many years has left us desperate for new energy sources. However, I still think much more needs to be done to develop renewable, carbon-neutral technologies, rather than new fossil fuels, and I for one would much prefer a wind turbine at the bottom of my street than a fracking rig!