Frack Film

Hello Andy,
We met at the Green Conference at the Adelphi Hotel on Saturday after the Frack policy debate…

Re the 17th, can we arrange in advance to do an on-camera interview and can you think of any questions that need to be asked but generally don’t get asked about the UK situation?

Paul Littler (Freeworld-Films)


Hi Paul,

Sorry for the delay in responding.

No problem doing and interview. The aspect of all this that I think is being neglected is the issue of democracy and accountability in the planning process. It is the central theme of my submission to the planning inquiry, which I have attached for you.

All the other issues are pretty obvious but the subject of largely polarised opinions.

That there are inherent risks to water supply, health issues, enhanced seismic activity and consequences for global warming (and all that implies) is established.

The extent of these risks is subject to intense debate and largely impossible to assess with any degree of accuracy or certainty due to a whole range of technical issues.

Similarly, the arguments over the economics of the industry are riddled with uncertainty and contorted by vested interests.

It therefore boils down to whether the risks are worth taking or not.

My own position is simple enough on all these matters:

  • The risk of groundwater contamination is small in probability terms for each individual borehole, but given the number of boreholes we would be faced with, it is close to an absolute certainty that even with the strictest of regulation, there will be multiple instances of contamination.
  • Contamination incidents will probably not show up for a long time and quite possibly not until people start reporting the health consequences. The contamination will be nigh on impossible to predict, control or remedy.
  • I have little faith in the industry declaring all chemicals used on every frack, or the regulators being able to monitor this and enforce regulations. The cocktail needs to change on virtually every frack job and most chemicals can only be tested for If declared. It has only been developments in the use of these chemicals to assist the processes involved , alongside directional drilling technology that has enbled to frackers to even comtemplate commercial exploitation of these resources.
  • The use of explosives to shatter rock and extend faults, the massive pressures used, and the use of any fluid at all in these cracks and fault lines is all bound to create more seismic activity. I do not think this would ever be serious enough in itself to be a direct threat, but the consequences for borehole and aquifer integrity are a threat – yet again difficult to predict, control or remedy.
  • In terms of future needs and energy security, there is no long term future for fossil fuels. They will all run out. The consequences of using them to date have created the global warming consequences that are going to bad enough as it is. Squeezing the last remnants of them out of the earth’s crust only puts off the inevitable day that we have to switch to more sustainable energy sources and exacerbates the adverse consequences of global warming.
  • The argument that gas is a cleaner fuel than coal is specious and facile. It ignores the total carbon footprint of exploitatation (this is subject to considerable debate), but also assumes we use gas INSTEAD of coal instead of in addition to coal.

Add this little lot up together and my answer to the big question is NO, the risks simply are not worth taking!!


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