Shale Gas, the natural gas trapped within sedimentary shale rock formations, is found world-wide and advances in technology have now meant that access to this resource is financially viable. It is here that the agreement between those who support and oppose the fracking process radically diverges.
For those who support fracking the processing is the most significant step forward since the discovery of oil in the around Britain’s coasts. They argue it will bring economic benefits, will reduce CO2 emissions by at least 50% and will secure Britain’s energy needs well in to the 21st Century.
Those who object to fracking argue that this technology is a short-term fix which is not infinite. Furthermore they argue, unlike North Sea Oil many hundreds of wells would have to be built to produce as much gas as the North Sea and thousands to produce the amount of gas needed to fuel the 30 -40 new power stations the Coalition Government is currently proposing. Furthermore opponents fear water contamination, air pollution and even greater industrialisation of rural Britain.
What is clear is that the debate is becoming polarised, with positions being drawn that are based more on reactionary positions than the practical reality needed to determine the future of Britain.
It is evident that Britain’s energy needs require urgent attention. Neoliberalism, a failed market approach, foreign ownership, insufficient investment, lack of planning and a short term philosophy have brought the energy sector to crisis point.
Ever increasing costs for consumers, greater fuel poverty, insufficient generation capacity, and potential power cuts do not create an environment for rational debate; however it is rational debate that is required.
To determine whether fracking will produce what the nation requires a number of test wells must be drilled. The benefits of fracking need to be determined and the impact on the environment have to be taken into account. However the energy requirements of Britain also need to be accounted for, as we cannot be in a position where our hospitals, schools homes and workplaces are plunged into darkness.
The current climate in regard to the cost of energy and possible black outs has been created by the failing of successive governments since the privatisation of the energy sector. They have abjectly failed to put the people of Britain first and have favoured filling the pockets of the energy bosses.
If fracking goes ahead, it is clear the resource cannot be wasted as was the case with North Sea Oil and Gas and it will have to be tightly regulated. We need to use the financial resources created to provide for the future needs of Britain. Furthermore we need a balanced energy policy that uses all forms of generation to provide for the needs of the British people. This will only be accomplished when the nation’s energy resources are in the hands of the people and the neoliberalist agenda is rejected.