It’s a safe bet that Osborne’s Autumn Statement this Wednesday will hail a fracking revolution as the start of a new energy cornucopia for Britain. Like everything else politicians say 5 months before an election, it needs to be taken with a piece of salt. Only one shale well has been fracked in Britain – Cuadrilla’s PH1 at Preese Hall near Blackpool – and that had to be suspended when in 2011 when it caused minor earth tremors. Another attempt was made by Cuadrilla to set up a fracking operation, thistime on the mainland at Balcombe in the Sussex Weald, but that had to be called off as a result of determined opposition by the Tory rural brolly brigade, a resistance group that has now established a widespread network across the country pledged to fight fracking wherever it rears its head.
The Blackpool saga is revealing. Cuadrilla now wants, egged on by the government, to get permission to bore 8 further wells in Lancashire within the next 6 months. The county council is taking its time to consider this and is looking at the history of PH1, as well they might. It is a textbook case of how pathetic is the regulation of fracking: the Environment Agency and Health & Safety Executive visit drilling operations only very rarely, relying instead on the drillers’ own weekly reports and letting them make their own appraisal.
Read more “Fracking: Osborne’s latest 18th century-style ‘folly’” »