The polling company Comres asked 2,035 people in a Greenpeace survey how much they supported fracking. Described as a process where:
“natural gas is extracted . . . by drilling a hole, creating a tiny explosion to fracture the rock and then injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to allow gas to be released” GWPF
This very fair description of the shale gas exploration process resulted in 42 per cent of people supported fracking with 35 per cent opposed. This differs from the surveys done by DECC and is particularly awkward for Greenpeace, showing greater support for the shale gas industry than government surveys. The Greenpeace survey done by an independent agency may also explain the difference from the DECC performed surveys. Greenpeace believe that fracking is an issue which could swing the results at the elections in marginal constituencies. You will need to go to the footnote at the end of the page to get the figures. Greenpeace
My view is that shale extraction is not a big concern locally, and has only come up once in the recent hustings, where a patient explanation that fracking takes place at about a mile underground, well below the water reservoir levels, was enough to allay concern.
The reasons for shale gas exploration for the UK are:
- It is the duty of a government to know the extent of the full resources of the nation
- All mineral rights belong to the government, including shale gas, and revenues from gas extraction go directly towards government funds
- If those resources are recoverable, we should know how much, and when they can be used
- Shale gas has halved the cost of gas in the USA
- Having our own gas supplies, even if not providing all of our needs, can be used to offset instabilities in supplies elsewhere
- There are benefits in having new employment which will not require huge subsidies, as do wind turbines or solar farms
- Lower cost energy benefits the consumer, and attracts new investment into energy-intensive industries
- It raises the prospect of having highly efficient gas powered electricity and hot water heating schemes fuelled from local shale sources
- We will always need gas power stations to back up the intermittent and unpredictable nature of the kind of renewables now in use in the UK*
A good energy policy from this might be to have the very significant, but perhaps modest ambition, of the ‘lowest cost energy in Europe’. It is modest because European energy costs are some of the highest in the world, and we would not need to do much to reduce our energy costs by shedding the burdensome EU legislation. It is very significant, because it will put us at an advantage over our EU industry competitors, both as a preparation to leave the EU and after, when we will have free access to the 85% of the world market.
*If tidal flow renewables are used, backup is less likely to be needed, and some fossil fuelled power sources can be eliminated