Resource Links  and  Response to letter in The IOW Observer October 5th 2018

In response to Roy Rigby’s letter published 5th October, headlined ‘God Help our hapless descendents if the NIMBYs get their way’.

First some assurance contrary to Mr Rigby’s belief that we are NIMBYs or “People who think little further than the mental boundaries set by their own narrow experiences and beliefs which are often based on hearsay and on what has recently become known as ‘fake news’.”

Frack Free Isle of Wight are a group of over 2000 individuals, many of whom have dedicated thousands of hours researching the subject and networking locally, nationally and globally with other groups and individuals, scientists, politicians, people with experience of working in the industry or living with the effects of it.

 

Particularly noteworthy considering Mr Rigby’s beliefs is John Ashton CBE - Special Representative for Climate Change at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, serving 3 successive foreign secretaries 2006-2012, and co-founder of E3G, an independent not-for-profit organisation that works in the public interest to accelerate the global transition to sustainable development. (*1 )  ( *2)

Let’s just say he would not share Mr Rigby’s faith in the government doing the right thing.

It is worrying that local people engaging with the democratic process seem to have caused Mr Rigby more distress than corporate and vested interests influencing national policy, however our demonstration was to raise awareness of the current government consultation on Permitted Development for Shale Gas Exploration which was on the agenda for the IW Council meeting that evening.

If we alerted Mr Rigby to the consultation we succeeded, but we do not claim to have influenced the decision.

Of course we’d have tried had it been necessary, but we were jubilant and relieved that our councillors wholeheartedly agreed they should object to government plans to change planning regulations to allow the oil and gas industry to drill exploration wells without local authority planning permission.

Noting Mr Rigby’s point of hypocrisy on damage caused by fossil fuel production worldwide, would it not be hypocritical to tell other countries how to act if we do not lead by example? Furthermore, UK production would be in addition to, not instead of, production elsewhere thus compounding environmental impacts.

 

As individuals we have less influence on what happens globally, but we are responsible for electing our government and have a duty to hold them to account for the sake of generations to come.

We hope to allay at least some of Mr Rigby’s fears for our ‘hapless descendants if we don’t frack and blindly continue to be reliant on Mr Putin’, so he can enjoy many happy years to come.

Mr Rigby is not alone having those fears, understandably as we are so bombarded with government rhetoric and media bias designed for that very purpose. So let’s dispel a few common myths with some facts.

We are NOT reliant on Russia for gas. Of UK gas imports, well over half is piped from Norway, entirely independent of Russian supply. Around 17% is shipped in LNG, mostly from Qatar.  Remaining imports come via The Netherlands and Belgium pipelines so whilst Russia supplies around 36% of total European demand, the total estimated amount of UK gas from Russia is 1%.(*3)    (*4)

 

Fracking would NOT make us self reliant for gas. It’s widely acknowledged the UK’s unstable geology and lack of vast  unpopulated areas cannot replicate the US shale boom. (*7)

Hypothetically (but unrealistically) 1.1 wells would need to be drilled and fracked every single day between 2021 to 2035 to replace even half of imports for that period. (*6)

 

The government admitted last year that their previous estimate of 150 wells by 2020 was outdated. (They haven’t successfully fracked one.)

 

Too little, too late and completely unnecessary. The UK Energy Research Council (UKERC), an academic consortium covering 30 institutions, researched the future of gas in the UK. The authors said shale gas was so early in its infancy it was impossible to know how much could be extracted and at what cost, but it was most unlikely to make a substantial difference to prices or to the security of energy supplies in the UK.
“It is very frustrating to keep hearing that shale gas is going to solve our energy problems – there’s no evidence for that whatsoever... it's hype.” said research director Prof Jim Watson. “It’s extraordinary that ministers keep making these statements. They clearly want to create a narrative. But we are researchers – we deal in facts, not narratives, and at the moment there is no evidence on how shale gas will develop in the UK. Shale gas has been completely oversold. Where ministers got this rhetoric from I have absolutely no idea. It’s very misleading for the public.”

We do NOT need it. Jerome Ferrier, President of the International Gas Union at the World Gas Conference in Paris 2015 said it was a pity not to explore the possibility of shale development, but the future of gas does not depend on shale gas, there is enough conventional gas to meet demand for more than a century.

 

Viable alternatives HAVE already been suggested. (CEID)/(UKERC) policy briefing ‘Unlocking Britain’s First Fuel’ sets out how investing in energy efficiency in homes can be cost effective and play a key role in delivering energy affordability, sustainability and security. (*8)

‘One Million Climate Jobs’, a report by the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union group shows how to create a million secure Government jobs in renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency, insulating homes and public buildings free of charge, hugely expanding cheap public transport to get people and freight cleaner forms of transit, and developing "green skills" through education and training.(*9)

UK gas demand is already falling and will continue to do so. (*4)

Total household energy use fell by a fifth between 2004 and 2015, despite a 12% increase in the number of households and a 10% increase in population. Average household energy use fell 27% despite more appliances per household and higher in-home temperatures (BEIS 2016). This trend is expected to continue despite a collapse in funding for energy efficiency improvements in England. By 2025, gas demand will fall another 25%. (*10)

 

A British company is already underway to making gas from grass, with the potential to cut carbon emissions, help create an energy independent Britain, support food production by improving soils, create wildlife habitats, provide additional income to farmers and create natural fertiliser from the residues. (*12)

Another potential fuel source is algae which converts sunlight into energy stored in the form of oil. This can be extracted to use as sustainable biofuels for cars, trucks, trains, and planes. Algae absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows making it a nearly carbon-neutral fuel source.(*11)

Imagine what could be achieved if instead of wasting time, energy and resources on clinging on to what is by anyone’s standards a dying industry, the government implemented true energy security by supporting and investing in clean, sustainable renewables, energy efficiency, updated energy infrastructure and storage.

 

We should demand nothing less for our descendants.

  1. http://www.climatechangenews.com/2015/01/27/john-ashton-fracking-push-is-an-insult-to-democracy/
     

  2. https://www.e3g.org/docs/Briefing_for_Lancashire_County_Council.pdf
     

  3. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43421431
     

  4. https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-less-than-1-per-cent-uk-gas-supplies-come-from-russia
     

  5. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/fracking-uk-55-million-years-late-shale-gas-extraction-geology-unsuitable-seismic-activity-john-a7897711.html
     

  6. https://cdn.friendsoftheearth.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/FOE-Frack-Import-Report_0.pdf
     

  7. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/oct/06/frackers-back-will-there-be-british-shale-gas-boom
     

  8. http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/news/unlocking-britains-first-fuel.html
     

  9. https://www.campaigncc.org/climatejobs
     

  10. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/updated-energy-and-emissions-projections-2017
     

  11. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/scientists-turn-algae-into-crude-oil-in-less-than-an-hour-180948282/
     

  12. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3968012/Making-gas-GRASS-British-eco-pioneer-s-green-energy-firm-comes-alternative-fracking.html

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