I went hoping to learn a few new things about the legal aspects of the issue, but learned nothing new.
One of the three speakers, Alan Riley, did not show, replaced by a UKELA convenor Haydn Davies, filling a bit of the time, but all that was presented was an outline of the issues that any fractivist should have a reasonable appreciation of by now.
There were numerous occasions where I had to correct misinformation, and which was all accepted. It is worrying that legal consultants in the field, making big money out of guiding players in the industry, and claiming to be “exploring the myths and truths about the impacts on the environment” are promoting some myths themselves.
I had to correct Rob Jefferies of Environ on numerous things, including:
- Coal Bed Methane does not involve fracking. WRONG
- There have only been 3 earthquakes caused by fracking. WRONG (3 where the frackers have conceded they caused it perhaps, including Cuadrilla in Lancashire)
- Boreholes wont leak if properly constructed. WRONG (They may not leak immediately but they all do sooner or late)
A more senior looking guy from Environ thanked me for my valid points and thought provoking contributions.
James Taylor, the other principal speaker, made a point of coming up to me and conceding that I clearly know more about the process and issues than he does. To be fair, his talk did not contain any howlers, and did offer some tasty snippets:
- The shale boom has not seen US coal mines reduce production, it now just wanders the seas until it finds a buyer.
- The massive interest in shale in Poland is already floundering and beginning to not be seen as viable
- Drilling under your property contitutes trespass – but the best you can hope for is a little compensation if you can prove some loss
- Europe is a fundamentally different proposition to the USA, with many and varied extra barriers for the industry to overcome (population density, land/mineral rights, consent regime, role of nuclear/renewables, precautionary principle, carbon budget issues, the industries tainted image etc)
So overall, I am pleased I went, and was pleased to see Max Wallis and Gareth Clubb there too. It offerred no reassurance whatsoever, but did strengthn my conviction that we are fighting a crucial battle with social and environmental justice on our side.