The fight against fracking being taken to Downing Street

The fight against fracking is being taken to Downing Street on 1st December, by a delegation representing every part of the UK, with South Wales being represented by Andy Chyba of “The Vale Says No!” campaign group and Bridgend Green Party. He will be part of a 6 strong delegation that also has representatives from Scotland, Northern Ireland, the South East of England and two from Lancashire, where the only fracking in the UK, to date, has occurred – and run into immediate problems.

Fracking is one of the techniques used in so called “extreme energy” exploitation, that seeks to extract the the last remaining drops of fossils fuels from the ground in ever more extreme and risky ways. Fracking involves pumping water, sand and a cocktail of chemicals into the ground under extraordinary pressure in order to shatter shale rocks and release gas trapped in the shales. South Wales also faces the threat of other types of extreme energy production – such as Underground Coal Gasification (threatened in Swansea Bay and the Lougher Estuary) and Coal Bed Methane (across the South Wales Coalfield).

Among the many problems experienced by the frackers in countries like the USA and Australia are: the complexity of fractures allowing gas and chemicals to migrate into groundwater and water supplies; serious health issues related to the water contamination and also air contamination associated with gas treatment at the surface; triggering of seismic activity such as the two earthquakes shown to be linked with the fracking near Blackpool; implications for agriculture, especially organic farmers, of contaminants in water, soil and air; impacts on property prices; difficulties of disposing with water returned to the surface, full of additional contaminants flushed from the rocks (including radioactive isotopes); the impacts of associated heavy vehicle traffic in rural areas; explosive blow-outs.

What is also now clear is that even if no major problems are created straight away, the problems can be stored up to strike years/decades/centuries after the frackers have done their dirty deeds.

Given this catalogue of horror and the genuine difficulties in predicting, regulating and remedying most of these problems, rational and prudent governments in many parts of the world have seen fit to impose moratoria and bans. These include: France, Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Canada (Quebec), Germany (North Rhine Westphalia), USA (Vermont, New Jersey, New York).

Given the dire economic mess created by successive governments, it is perhaps not surprising that this particular government is being wooed by its friends in big business into contemplating the ‘quick fix’ represented by ‘extreme energy’, such as fracking for shale gas. But even the most optimistic of projections suggest that fracked shale gas can make no more than a small dent in our energy needs, for no more than 30 years. These optimistic projections bear little relation to the reality found in most areas subjected to fracking to date. These have found it difficult to get much more than 10% of the expected gas out of the rocks and have found wells becoming uneconomic after little more than 3 or 4 years.

Our concerns resonate with every community directly threatened by the frackers – such as Llandow in the Vale of Glamorgan – as they then sit up and take notice of what is truly at stake. Groups across the UK have now come together to form an Anti Fracking Network to try to ensure these crowded islands of ours remain a safe, clean and habitable place for future generations to live. When you look at the state of the world around us today, do we really want to leave yet another toxic legacy for our children and grandchildren to have to contend with?

This is the message being taken to Downing Street, along with petitions and letters of concern, and as part of a whole day of action in London and around the country – such as in Swansea – called Get Fracktious – which will also involve building mock rigs and pipelines.



For more information: Contact Andy Chyba

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