Letter to PM David Cameron calling for a fracking ban

Being delivered by hand on Saturday 1st December 2012 by 6 strong delegation:

Dear Mr Cameron,

UK-wide call for an immediate ban on shale gas and coal bed methane exploration and development on our islands.

Through your seemingly imminent adoption of a hazardous, unregulatable and largely foreign-owned hydrocarbon extraction industry in Britain, your ‘greenest government ever’ is in fact sanctioning nothing short of potential ecocide.

We have had detailed correspondence with the DECC over the past year, the vast majority of which has been obfuscatory and contradictory. Gayzer Taryanyi, whose house was cracked by fracking activities in Lancashire last year, recently walked from Blackpool to Westminster to deliver a letter to you, to which your office gave a cursory response that was tantamount to disregard. As a result, we are today delivering this letter as a formal UK-wide deputation, requesting straight answers from you personally as the man who is ultimately responsible.

Fracking for shale gas and coal bed methane is not an intelligent response to Britain’s energy needs. It would provide gas and ‘keep the lights on’ in the next fifteen to twenty years, after which Britain would be in exactly the same energy predicament it is in now, except that our landscape would be spoiled, water courses irreparably contaminated and we would have poured countless tons of methane and CO2 into the atmosphere.

‘Safe fracking’, Mr Cameron, is the oxymoron of the decade. It is simply not possible to regulate a technology which is prey to the vagaries of subterranean geology. Hydraulic fracturing compromises seismic security and risks leakage of fugitive toxic gases and other carcinogenic contaminants through faulty well-casings and along fault lines into our groundwater, aquifers, reservoirs, soil, air and thereby our bloodstreams and those of our children – for untold generations.

1. In the only attempt so far at high volume hydraulic fracturing in the UK, almost everything that could go wrong did so. Earthquakes were caused and well casings have repeatedly failed.

Will you place upon the fracking industry the responsibility for the risks it is taking with our ecology and seismic security and to observe the internationally agreed ‘precautionary principle’?

2. Fracking in our rural communities would significantly and detrimentally alter the character and appearance of our communities and deny citizens their right to enjoyment of their homes and local environment. Your parliamentary constituency of Witney lies in an area with fracking shale gas potential.

What steps will you take to to ensure that your constituents’ quality of life is not spoiled by industrialising the area with shale gas wells, condensate tanks, waste fluid pits, pipelines, compressor stations and frequent heavy road tanker traffic?

3. When fracking damages businesses, communities, homes, health and the environment, it is not clear where to go for redress. When damage or loss occurs, the injured parties are left to fend for themselves against the closed ranks of an unresponsive industry.

Will your government implement legislation compelling the fracking industry to discharge its liabilities promptly and fairly and to establish an autonomous, industry-financed liability levy that is rigorously regulated?

4. There has been no Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed shale gas fracking sites In the Fylde and the agencies responsible have not explained why.

Will you ensure that the Fracking industry and regulatory agencies disclose all relevant information and conduct All necessary assessments, and that all exploration in the Fylde is halted until this has been done?

5. The fracking industry is secretive or silent about how spent fracking fluid effluent (‘produced water’) is transported, treated, evaporated, injected into wells and disposed of. Four million litres of radioactive waste water from Cuadrillas Preese Hall Farm site was moved without a permit, diluted and dumped in the Manchester Ship Canal. Some waste frack fluid has been moved more recently, but there is no information about where it was moved to, by whom and by what permitting process, if any. In the US and Australia, toxic waste effluent is illegally being sprayed on roads as ‘dust suppressant’ or ‘de-icer’.

Will you compel the fracking industry to make full disclosure of how it will store, transport, treat and dispose of its toxic waste?

6. Fracking for shale gas involves building up enormous hydraulic pressure to fracture shale rock. When the rock splits and the pressure finally is released, a huge plume of methane, hydrocarbons, benzene and other carcinogenic volatile organic compounds (VOC) escapes into the air.

If your Government gives the green light to further hydraulic fracturing in the UK, will you do anything to prevent this routine air pollution?

7. US data shows that 30% of well casings fail within 10 years. Failed well casings are a route for contamination to groundwater aquifers and to the air.

What rate of well casing failure would be acceptable to you?

8. Damage caused by oil and gas exploration is impossible to prove without pre-fracking baseline testing of air and water.

Will you introduce statutory independent baseline testing, funded by an industry levy, to be undertaken before each planning permission is granted for fracking?

9. In the Fylde, over 800 shale gas well are planned by Cuadrilla. A similar intensity of industrial development is planned for all areas of the UK that can be fracked, because there are no ‘gas fields’ but only small pockets of gas distributed evenly throughout the shale rock. This supply declines sharply once each well has been fracked.

Do you acknowledge that exploiting a short-term, finite supply of shale gas will spoil and contaminate large areas of the British countryside?

10. Like shale gas fracking, unconventional coal bed methane extraction presents a threat to the countryside of the UK for the short-term benefit of a dirty industry.

Will you closely examine the implications of the coal bed methane wells already approved at Keynsham near Bristol and at Airth in Scotland?

Hydraulic fracturing for methane is an ecocidal, inept, uneconomical and irresponsible attempt to address our critical energy needs that would be hugely damaging and inappropriate for Britain and it is unnecessary. The number of jobs that the fracking industry would create is small compared to those which would be created by clean renewable energy technologies were the government to back them. The CO2 reduction target for the UK could easily be met by renewables and by a concerted reduction in energy consumption with the retrofitting of existing building stock and more efficient transport systems.

The energy solution offered by the fracking industry by comparison is nasty, brutish and short. When will you stand by your claim of leading the ‘greenest government ever’, call an immediate moratorium on this  cynical insanity and invest instead in safe and truly renewable energy procurement technologies?

Please stop patronising and attempting to placate the people of the UK with nonsense about safe regulation of an unpredictable, unregulatable process that threatens irreversibly to poison our ecology, our farmland, our livestock and our children. We are not as credulous as you imagine.

Do you want a legacy as the Prime Minister who despoiled both the countryside and the health of Britain by sanctioning ecocide? Or would you prefer to be remembered as the first Prime Minister to lead a truly green government?

Yours sincerely,

(the six undersigned)

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Vanessa Vine – BIFF! (Britain & Ireland Frack Free) / Frack Free Sussex

Gayzer Tarjanyi – Frack Free Fylde

Eve McNamara – REAF (Ribble Estuary Against Fracking)

Andrew Chyba – The Vale Says NO!

Maria Montinaro – Falkirk Community Councils

Adam McGibbon – No Fracking Northern Ireland/Belfast not for $hale

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