Gardening Magazine

What the Frack?!

By Sophiecussen
Fracking Protest in Balcombe, earlier this week

Fracking Protest in Balcombe, earlier this week. Courtesy of Push Europe

I’l be honest, I’ve kept myself in the dark about the relatively new form of wrecking the environment called fracking (the hydraulic drilling process which basically shakes and fractures rock  way down beneath the surface of the earth to release gas which then gets pumped back up to the surface again).

I’ve picked up bits and snippits every so often but didn’t really take much notice of it.

That was until Caroline Lucas got arrested at a demo earlier this week in West Sussex.

When Caroline Lucas, someone I greatly admire, gets arrested then the story is now too important to ignore.

So what is all this business about fracking in the UK then, and is it really a good investment?

Well actually, I can answer that last question without even having to do any research.  The UK hasn’t got enough to invest in anything much less a load of machinery and drills.  So regardless of whether this works or not on any other level (health, environment etc) the answer must surely be no?  I mean we do keep being told there is no money, that we have to cut back on everything.  Well almost everything by the looks of it…

I can also tell you that the reason the UK are doing this is because of the United States.  It’s taken off in a huge way over there and has improved their economy so much that not only have they been able to raise interest rates but have brought down the costs of gas.  Good old Mr Cameron obviously had a tête-à-tête with some guys over in America at some point and said ‘hey this is excellent, we could do this’.

Unfortunately Mr Cameron, and at least half his party haven’t actually got a very good hold on Geography and at the very least don’t seem to realise that compared to the USA, the UK is but a tiny blob.  Not only much smaller but a bigger density of people living within it, spread all over the UK fairly evenly.  Which appears to bring this notion of this energy two problems, one is that where ever they drill someone (like a whole town at the very least) will let you know about it and secondly that if it were to cause earthquakes, because the amount of fracking intended is huge, it would cause insurance to go up and we’d see yet more financial worries.

Okay, so that’s the opinions out of the way (that felt good), is it our energy solution of the future?


I’ve looked all over for various sources to tell me how many years of gas we’d get from all this investment like how it could produce 70,000 new jobs, or how local towns could get ‘significant’ cash benefits.

Finally in one newspaper it tells me that fracking in the north of England could produce gas for 40 years – yes 40 years!  Or 25 years, depending on which newspaper you read.

Sorry but this is hardly even a lifetime!  No wait, I see now…by starting fracking we can frack more.  Which means potentially there are loads of years worth of gas that could be extracted but no-one anywhere seems to be able to put a number on it.  Which is kind of weird considering there are so many technological systems being worked on and with all over the world.  However I’m not being convinced here.  It’s a finite source of energy so why even bother?

Of course the cynical me would suggest that maybe 40 years is just long enough for the crazy 1990s to come back to life once again, full of good times, sparkly campaign and loads of money before finally the next generation get hit with no money, no economy and no gas.

As usual it comes down to a few people with a lot of money and influence.  Sound familiar?  Annoyed yet?  I am.

The fracking will be done but I don’t think it will be done without a fight.  A fight which shouldn’t need to be made.  The investments for the alternative are all there, wanting to be heard so why not go with it?  I still believe wind/wave and solar will produce far more jobs for a much longer time period, and so do many other people too.

Why, when there are other much more sustainable energy solutions out there, does our Government want to use the quick and potentially very dirty solution, it’s just…sad.

I can only hope that there are a lot of angry people that continue to protest and don’t get swayed by a blank check because there are many places in the UK that could really do with some heavy investment – North East Lincolnshire is one of them and I’m sure looking at the shale formation map this area would be ripe for a good bit of drilling.

It would also be perfect for wind turbines…but I’ll leave that for another day.

Cover photo courtesy of Butte-Silver Bow Public Library

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