A dangerous concoction of fluids, chemicals and sand are pumped down a well which has been drilled deep into the rock. The high pressure forces the shale rock to fracture and to release methane gas. This is hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an extractive activity which is set to expand in the UK despite fierce local opposition amidst environmental and social concerns.
Earlier this month, we posted a letter to Claire Perry, Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth. In this letter, we outlined our arguments against fracking, and requested a meeting with the Minister in her constituency to discuss the recent proposals to fast-track fracking. We have not yet had a response.
What does this government really think it can achieve by pushing through new fracking projects across the UK? Methane – leaked in the fracking process – traps heat in the atmosphere 84 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide during the first 20 years after it is emitted, making it a potent greenhouse gas. Indeed the Committee on Climate change have stated that fracking is incompatible with the UK’s climate targets under the Climate Change Act. Wind and solar rank well above fracking in a recent study which looks at the environmental, social and economic sustainability of each energy source. Not only this, but fracking has been proven to increase local air and noise pollution, and to trigger earth tremors.
The government has promised new jobs and economic growth, with visions of a US-style boom in fracking. However, an unreleased 2016 government report shows that the government predicts the drilling of 155 wells by 2025. This is far below the possible figures cited in an industry report, which says that 4000 wells could be drilled by 2032. The government is clearly uncertain about how many wells can be drilled, and has been grossly overestimating the real-world economic benefits. Progress has (thankfully) been slow; the job-related promises ring hollow.
The Welsh and Scottish governments have already taken these doubts on board, have listened to their citizens, and banned fracking. We wanted to meet with Claire Perry to find out why she and the UK government continue to support fracking.
We signed off our letter, not only ‘sincerely’ (because we really do mean it), but also ‘with hope’. Because we hold the conviction that things can change. Hope sparks movement, solutions, and the ties that bind coalitions.
We believe that a country and a world without fracking is possible, and is indeed the only way forward. We will not, as young people and as UK citizens, stand back while the government overrides democracy. We will not allow Claire Perry to be a leader who merely leads us further down the rabbit-hole of fossil-fuel extraction. We will not stay quiet while communities’ concerns for health and wellbeing are disregarded in favour of short-term corporate and economic gain.
No response from Claire Perry and from the government on this issue is as good as a response which tells us that we do not live in a country where our elected officials are doing all they can to protect our environment and future generations. This is simply not good enough. We will keep campaigning for change; for a UK and a world where gas is not seen as a ‘clean’ or ‘bridge’ fuel, and where environmental justice is put first.