Yvonne Sibbald, on behalf of Frack Free Wakefield
I wish to respond to Andy Shaw’s letter in last week’s Express.
He makes a number of claims which I would respectfully suggest are misleading.
He begins by describing a Friends of the Earth information leaflet as “lies”. Craig Bennett, the CEO of Friends of the Earth, has issued statements saying that his organisation stands by the facts and that “scientific evidence against fracking is stronger than ever.” I totally agree with their position because it is based on a huge body of research by scientists and medical professionals, both here and in other countries.
For example, in March 2015 a letter was sent to the British Medical Journal signed by 18 academics including Dr Clare Gerada, former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Their conclusion was that: “the arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming.
“There are clear grounds for adopting the precautionary principle and prohibiting fracking.”
Mr Shaw goes on to outline the economic argument in favour of fracking. He states that fracking will produce cheap gas for UK citizens.
The fact is that the UK is part of an integrated European energy market, which means that any gas produced in the UK is traded on the open market and sold to the highest bidder. The government cannot therefore “reserve” gas for the UK or control the price.
Even Lord Browne, ex chairman of Cuadrilla, has stated that fracking is not going to have a material impact on price. The oil and gas companies are in business to make a profit and the gas will simply be sold to the highest bidder, in this country or shipped abroad.
I share Mr Shaw’s enthusiasm for well paid jobs for local people but there is no firm evidence to suggest that this will be the case. Studies commissioned by the oil and gas industry have come up with a figure of 64,000 jobs while another study commissioned by the former Department of Energy and Climate change suggest only 24,300 full time jobs, if and when production peaks.
This is fewer that the 27,000 jobs already lost or under threat because of the governments cuts to the solar industry alone.
Mr Shaw talks about the boom that occurred in North Dakota. That boom has now turned to bust with the price of oil at an all time low. He makes the case for councils benefiting from the shale gas fund. However, he does not take into account the environmental costs which would result from fracking and have to be paid for from local taxes.
The only winners from fracking will be the oil and gas companies. We all want good jobs and economic growth. Investing in renewable energy is the right way to achieve this. Gambling with our health and wellbeing is too big a risk to take, for very limited gains. Fracking has been banned or suspended in Scotland, Wales, Bulgaria the Netherlands and several US states.
Should this not give the British public grave cause for concern?