A CONTROVERSIAL method of extracting gas which has been blamed for causing earth tremors could become a common practice across the Lothians after a UK ban was lifted.
Green campaigners claim “fracking”, which involves drilling down and creating tiny explosions to shatter and crack shale rocks to release gas, can release cancer-causing chemicals, contaminate drinking water supplies and release harmful methane gases.
But global energy companies are now eyeing up Scotland’s shale and coal seams after Westminster ruled shale gas was “a promising new potential energy resource for the country”.
It also overturned the suspension of a Lancashire firm despite their fracking being blamed by some for a series of mini-earthquakes in Blackpool.
Huge parts of Scotland’s Central Belt, including Midlothian and East and West Lothian, which are rich in shale deposits, face being put out to tender in the new year by the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change.
Stirling-based Dart Energy already holds a licence for onshore exploration and development of shale gas and coal bed methane covering a large area including the mouth of the Firth of Forth and part of West Lothian. It has submitted a planning application to Falkirk and Stirling councils to install 14 new wells sites, a gas delivery and water treatment facility, pipeline and well trajectories.
The company website states it is in the early stages of exploring black metal and Lothian shale zones but bosses maintain there are no plans to start fracking. Friends of the Earth Scotland campaigner Mary Church said the decision paved the way for such companies to starting using the contentious method.
She said it was irresponsible of Westminster to give it the go-ahead before a full review of its potential environmental impact.
“A green light for fracking sends out all the wrong signals. It’s an unproven technique here in the UK, with an increasingly poor environmental track record around the world.”
She said there was no need to go down the “risky shale gas and coal-bed methane route” as Scotland had abundant renewable energy resources.
And she warned that the move would see renewable energy suffer, while world leading climate targets would be seriously compromised by the expansion of unconventional gas and fracking.
“The Scottish Government must not be led by Westminster on this. Communities across Scotland, who face the prospect of their area being licensed by DECC for shale and coal bed methane exploration and development, have the right to demand a full and thorough review of the health and environmental impacts of this industry before it is allowed to roll out any further.”
Business leaders have argued it will be good for the economy and that the unconventional gas industry will secure the UK’s energy supplies into the future and slash energy prices.
TO FRACK, OR NOT TO FRACK?
Dan Lewis, energy policy adviser at the Institute of Directors and co-author of a report into fracking, argues it could have huge benefits
SHALE gas has huge potential benefits for the UK, both economically and environmentally.
In the US, shale gas now accounts for 23 per cent of domestic gas production and 22 per cent of domestic consumption, helping to contribute to a drastic fall in energy prices for industry and householders.
We have a massive reserve of shale gas sitting right beneath our feet, and we must take advantage of it. Shale isn’t the answer to all our problems, but it would be a really beneficial part of the energy mix – creating jobs, driving decarbonisation and helping to prevent constant rises in energy prices.
We cannot afford to pass up this opportunity when there are so many upsides.
Fracking has been controversial, but the reality is that with proper regulation it is no more risky than any kind of hydrocarbon extraction. If we overplay the risks, we would miss out on the very real benefits.
Pursuing fracking in Scotland would be “wildly irresponsible”, argues Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie
PURSUING fracking would add massively to our current use of fossil fuels, and it would also be a massive and unhelpful distraction from the renewables agenda here in
There would be appalling consequences with carbon emissions that would end up in the environment, and all of that means that it would be wildly irresponsible to press ahead with any of this activity.
The benefits of this technology are, at this point in time, completely unproven and it would be fair to say that not enough is currently known about the process and its long-term environmental effects for the public to be confident about the process.
We are never going to know until we have a proper, robust regulatory system in place.
We should instead be looking to renewable energy and ways of increasing Scotland’s use of wind and tidal power.