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Two Fracking Views

Two Fracking ViewsIn our last article 'Shale Gas Inquiry' we gave notice of a Friends of the Earth meeting regarding shale gas that was held at The Annexe, St. Annes United Reformed Church, St Georges Road, St. Annes on Wednesday 7th December at 7.30 p.m.

We said at the time we couldn't go ourselves, but we hoped to bring readers some information about what went on. Well, at least two of our readers went to the meeting, so we have two reports of the meeting. The perceptions were very different.

"The Friends of the Earth meeting at the United Reformed Church on December 7th has spawned a Lytham St Annes group. This fledgling group wants the relevant authorities to put proper safeguards in place such as an Environmental Impact Assessment before considering further exploration by Cuadrilla. The group's members have their own individual concerns including the potential damage to flora and fauna, subsidence, water and air pollution, health risks, and increased traffic, but all are united in their intention to take action and influence events.

The group's first meeting was held on 15th, with nine attendees. It is intended to hold another meeting before Christmas and the group is confident that it will attract significant support from the Lytham St Annes' community."

counterbalance has the author's permission to pass out his mobile and email contact details if anyone wants to know more or get involved, so please email us if you want them.

"I went along to hear what was said. I counted 25 or 27 people at the meeting which, considering they'd distributed 500 flyers and had articles in the paper seems a bit of a low attendance, or maybe showed how much apathy there is. I mostly sat and listened without saying anything, but there were people from a group called Ribble Against Fracking and Friends of the Earth.

There were some concerns expressed about subsidence in St Annes where bungalows had been built on swampy farmers fields, and some people tried to link fracking to this subsidence - which had been going on for years.

One man said he thought the evening's discussion was one sided, and he wanted to know where the people from Cuadrilla were. He said he's expected hearing a balanced view, and if he'd known that both points of view were not going to be put forward, he wouldn't have bothered coming.

We watched a film about fracking in Pennsylvania which I'd seen before (at the Hilton Hotel in Blackpool, where it had been sponsored by the Co-op).

Before the meeting started I spoke to people from FOE and asked them what they thought was the problem? I said that after the drilling is completed and extraction begins, the cap won't be very noticeable, and in all that's been done here and in America, no one has been killed or seriously injured. Furthermore, Pennsylvania is not comparable with the UK, as was said at the Hilton meeting, we don't have any wells that produce drinking water in Fylde.

I thought if there is going to be a gap in providing alternative sources of energy - as most people seem to think there will be - I thought we can't just give up on this technology - not least because we don't want to be dependent on imported gas supplies in the UK."

Our own view remains agnostic. We can see big advantages for national energy security if it goes ahead, but there are unknown risks in using the technique in shale geology.

We think the matter is too technologically complicated to be definitive at present, and it will come down to what the expert geologists have to say. The detailed report about the tremor after the recent fracking is no doubt being digested by them at the moment, and we imagine we will hear more about that shortly.

From what we've seen in the press, the expert hired by Fylde Council seems to have the view that it's a bad thing. Whether that was before or after he was hired we don't know, but his public comments seem to suggest he doesn't approve.

Also, an online petition has been launched on Fylde's website to give those opposed to the process a chance to express their disagreement. The easiest way to find it is to go to the Fylde Council homepage then click the tab near the top that says "Petitions" and scroll down the resultant page.

When we last looked, there were only two signatures and 89 days to go before the petition closed, so if any of our readers want to add their weight, we're sure it would be welcome.

Finally,  we're going to mention again the update added to our last article showing a readers link to what we think is the best explanation of the drilling and fracturing process we've ever seen. It's a video from another drilling company and it is about oil prospecting in shale rock rather than gas prospecting, but it's an easy to understand video. You can follow this link to see the drilling video http://www.northernoil.com/drilling

Dated:  20 December 2011


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