Saying no to fracking in Balcombe and Surrey

Protesters in Balcombe. Photo by Katie SmithThis Sunday, several Redhill Green Party members travelled to Balcombe in West Sussex to show support for residents in their stand against fracking.

Protests have been going on at Balcombe since fracking company Cuadrilla began exploratory drilling for shale oil there three weeks ago.

The government would have us believe that shale gas and oil can solve all of our problems, from fuel poverty to keeping the lights on. But far from being a solution to any of our problems, a new ‘dash for gas’ would be disastrous both economically and environmentally.

Fracking poses serious environmental risks, including air and soil pollution, and threatens already overstretched water resources. It makes a mockery of the UK’s efforts to tackle climate change.

And it won’t even help bring energy prices down. It’s not just Greens saying that: everyone from senior executives at Norddeutsche Landesbank, analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance and even Cuadrilla’s own PR people say that the development of shale gas resources in the UK is unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in UK natural gas prices. 

Licences in Surrey

Areas licensed for oil and gas exploration

Areas licensed for oil and gas exploration

In the past week we have received a flurry of emails from people wanting to know if any companies have licences to frack in this area.

Although shale oil and gas exploration is at an early stage in the UK, licences have already been granted across Surrey – so industrial sites could pop up throughout the area, bringing a huge increase in heavy goods traffic as drilling materials, water, chemicals, waste and the extracted gas or oil are transported to and from the sites.

You can see a map of current licences on this webpage  – zoom in to see the licensed areas. The Government is keen to extend these areas in the next licensing round, likely to take place later this year.

These licences are to extract the gas or oil, they don’t specify the method to be used.  In order to frack, the companies would need further specific permits. The Government is currently trying to make the permissions process easier for the companies to get permissions and harder for residents to oppose.

Frack Free Zone?

Protesters at Balcombe. Photo by Katie SmithIn February 2012, I proposed a motion asking the Council to declare Reigate & Banstead a Frack Free Zone. Rather than allowing councillors to debate and vote on the motion, the motion was referred to the Executive who, more than a year later, voted against it.

Now that we have a Green County Councillor, we will look at introducing a similar motion to Surrey County Council.

Meanwhile our Green MEP, Keith Taylor, is working hard to secure European laws against fracking.

Balcombe – a test case

For now, we are supporting the community in Balcombe, West Sussex, where Cuadrilla is already carrying out test drilling.

This will be a test case for the entire South East, so it is important we do all we can to demonstrate our opposition and inform people about the risks of fracking, and the myths being perpetuated by the industry and its apologists in government.

If you want to get involved, I would highly recommend spending some time at the Community Protection Camp there, even if it’s just an hour or two – you can find out more on greatgasgala.org.uk.

The Greens are completely against any shale gas exploitation. We need to heed the warnings of other European countries, such as France, who have banned fracking entirely.

Instead of continuing to chase ever more extreme forms of fossil fuel energy, we should be investing in energy conservation and renewable energy, creating an affordable, job-rich, energy-secure future.

[Thanks to Katie Smith for the photos.]

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Don Burgess
    Posted Saturday, 16 November 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    You are wrong about fracking. There are NO environmental effects if it is done CORRECTLY. Don.

    • Councillor Bryn Truscott
      Posted Sunday, 17 November 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Hello Don

      Thank you for your comment. I’m afraid I can’t agree that there would be no damaging environmental effects if fracking is done ‘correctly’, but it is true to say that proper regulation can be used to reduce them. Which is why it is worrying that the UK’s Environment Secretary appears to be actively trying to find ways to resist new EU regulations designed to do just that (as reported in the Telegraph recently – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/10370306/UK-fracking-ambitions-threatened-by-EU-warning-over-methane-emissions.html)

      Even if fracking could be made environmentally safe, shale gas is still a fossil fuel and will contribute to increased CO2 emissions at a time when we need to be reducing them to stave off the worst effects of global warming. Those who claim that shale gas emissions are lower than coal are on shaky ground according to research into fracking site methane leaks, which suggest that, overall, fracking’s contribution to the greenhouse effect is actually greater than that of coal (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-011-0061-5). And the idea that shale gas will be burned instead of coal, rather than in addition to coal, strikes me as a bit fanciful.

      Responding to your comment has caused me to spend a bit of time researching the current status of fracking in the UK, and I have ended up with more to say than I could sensibly write in this reply. So I have written it all up in a post on our local Green Party blog – http://rbgp.org.uk/2013/11/fracking-where-are-we-now/. I would welcome any further thoughts you have on the subject (either on that post or this one).

      Thanks very much for getting in touch

      Bryn

One Trackback

  • By Fracking. Where are we now? on Sunday, 17 November 2013 at 6:41 pm

    […] recently received a comment on one of the fracking posts on our Redhill Greens website, and in the process of responding to that I thought it would be worth writing up a blog post on the […]

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