Osborne throws down the fracking gauntlet – so the gloves are off from now on!!

The relevant part of Osborne’s budget speech today:

“But I also want Britain to tap into new sources of low cost energy like shale gas. So I am introducing a generous new tax regime, including a shale gas field allowance, to promote early investment. And by the summer, new planning guidance will be available alongside specific proposals to allow local communities to benefit. Shale gas is part of the future. And we will make it happen.”

Where to start!! The sheer stubborn stupidity of the man is staggering.

“Low cost energy like shale gas” – who on earth is he trying to kid?

If renewables received similar tax breaks and subsidies as those dished out to the fossil fuel industries and nuclear, the need for these dangerous and expensive technologies would soon disappear. Even as things stand, renewables will beat shale gas to lower power prices in the UK, according to an analysis from bank Citigroup and other moe credible sources than the Oil & Gas industries.

We could and should be following the example of countries like Germany. The share of electricity produced from renewable energy in Germany has increased from 6.3 percent of the national total in 2000 to about 25 percent in the first half of 2012. In 2010, investments totaling 26 billion euros were made in Germanys renewable energies sector. According to official figures, some 370,000 people in Germany were employed in the renewable energy sector in 2010, especially in small and medium sized companies. This is well over twice the number of jobs in 2004 (160,500). Germany has been called “the world’s first major renewable energy economy”. In 2011 20.5% of Germany’s electricity supply was produced from renewable energy sources, more than the 2010 contribution of gas-fired power plants.

And what about Denmark? It is already the world leader in wind power, getting a fifth of its power from wind turbines. They are committed to “an historical effort to become even better at saving energy and create an even more competitive and energy-effective company culture in Denmark, also for households,” Minister for Climate, Energy and Building Martin Lidegaard has said. The portion of Denmark’s electricity from renewables would rise to 52 percent by 2020 under their plan.
The Danish government’s proposals call for coal-fired power plants and oil-fired heating to be phased out by 2030. Lidegaard explained that they see the plan to phase out fossil fuels amounting to buying an insurance policy “against the risk of the market in the next 10 years.The conclusion being it has a cost to make a green transformation, but it also has a cost not to do it,” Lidegaard said. “I think this will work out to be the best insurance Denmark has ever (bought).”
Under the plan, 100 percent of Denmark’s power and heat would come from renewable energy by 2035, the ministry said. By 2050, the entire energy supply — electricity, heat, industry and transportation — would come from renewables, according to the proposal. The initiatives would cut Denmark’s greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent by 2020 based on 1990 levels.
Lidegaard said that Denmark faced three global crises which will hit it “with a force that is so far absolutely unheard of” — an economic and financial crisis, a climate crisis and a resources crisis. “This proposal will address all three crises.”
The push for renewable energy would position Denmark as a leader in developing climate-friendly technology, he said.


“Generous new tax regime” – for all the wrong people doing all the wrong things!

Public subsidies for the development of wind power in the UK are dwarfed by the tax breaks enjoyed by fossil fuels, a new Guardian analysis has revealed. Financial support for fledgling renewable energy industries has increasingly come under attack in recent months, but the new data shows that the older industries benefit to a far greater extent. Gas, oil and coal prices were subsidised by £3.63bn in 2010, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development , whereas offshore and onshore wind received £0.7bn in the year from April 2010. All renewables in the UK benefited from just £1.4bn over the same period, according to data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc). http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/27/wind-power-subsidy-fossil-fuels

The boss of a company set to build two nuclear reactors in Somerset has been demanding cuts to renewable energy subsidies and to help for people in fuel poverty while quietly lobbying the European Commission for financial help for new nuclear power stations. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/nuclear-boss-wants-to-cut-family-fuel-aid-8537553.html . The coalition promised no subsidies fro nuclear power, but the following forms of support for the nuclear industry have been recorded in
Hansard as answers by the UK government to parliamentary questions in June 2010 http://www.mng.org.UK/gh/private/nuclear_subsidies1.PDF :

  • £11 million on research expenditure to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in 2010
  • £10.2 million for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) current nuclear research portfolio since 2008-09 on eight projects directly relevant to long term nuclear waste management and facility decommissioning.
  • £3.553 million for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management research
  • £180,000 For the Environment Agency for grant in aid on regulatory research relevant to nuclear waste and decommissioning in 2009-10
  • £0.95 million annual subscription to the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) & the NEA’s Data Bank, which contains technical information from other NEA members.
  • £5 million provided by the NDA in 2007-08 million to support the establishment of Energus (formerly referred to as The Nuclear Academy) as a centre of excellence for skills, training and business support.
  • US$ 9.3 million and 16.4 million respectively to the United Nations Atomic watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for 2010, With a similar sum, but allowing for inflation, exchange rate differences, and the likely outcome of current ongoing budget negotiations among member states and the agency, has been set aside for 2011.
  • 116.95 million and US$ 84.42 million paid by UK to the IAEA over the past 10 years.
  • £3 million DECCs Office for Nuclear Development, total budget for 2010-11. This does not include the cost of DECC’s wider work on policy associated with nuclear security, safety and non-proliferation.

“New planning guidance” – this is likely to mean that the largest projects could have the option to apply for the go-ahead through a central Government process rather than via local authorities. They thereby hope to bypass any possibility of grassroots local groups of concerned residents (like the Vale Says NO! and Frack-Free Wales) having any real say over the decimation of their futures. As Neil Sinden, The Campaign to Protect Rural England’s director of policy, said today: “We will make sure communities are not sidelined in the decision-making process.” We will take to the streets and ensure our voices are heard and the frackers are held to account every step of the way!

As for “Allow local communities to benefit” – perhaps Osborne would like to explain how they will benefit from:

  • Loss of property/house value
  • Loss of jobs in existing sectors like tourism and agriculture
  • Adverse impacts on local agriculture, such as loss of land and loss of organic status
  • Huge amounts of HGV traffic negotiating their lanes
  • Influx of very short-term migrant workers
  • Air pollution from pressure release of frack jobs, fugitive emissions of shale gas, diesel fumes from trucks and heavy machinery
  • Noise from drilling, trucks and machinery
  • Sending every single one of us, local communities everywhere, over the precipice of calamitous climate change, at the behest of greedy capitalist, corporate frackers .

These are amongst the certain impacts everywhere the frackers pitch up. On top of this is the absolute lottery of when and where things will go wrong. Not if, but when and where there will be:

  • Contamination of aquifers
  • Surface spillages of chemicals and heavily polluted ‘produced’ water
  • Serious health issues such as endocrine disruption – causing hormone imbalances, cancers, birth defects and developmental problems in children (http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/home.php)
  • Increased seismic activity

Finally, the sheer arrogance of “we will make it happen– quite simply, not if I have anything to do with it, George!. Me and whose army? The ever growing legions of fractivists around the country, indeed around the globe, who will not stand by and watch the rape of the countryside and the destruction of our futures.

3 thoughts on “Osborne throws down the fracking gauntlet – so the gloves are off from now on!!

  1. Nicki Penaluna

    He is a stupid fracker. I am just so glad I don’t live in the UK any more. What a disaster this government is. ‘The Greenest Government You have ever Known’ David Cameron before his election. What a lying toad he has turned out to be!



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