A new report was released today which highlights the demand for fracking in the UK, suggesting that 50 new land-based drilling rigs should be set up in order to capitalise on it. Supporters have talked of the £33 billion the rigs could generate as well as the 64,000 jobs that would be created. How do the pros and cons of fracking in the UK stack up?
Of course, this report was released by the UK Onshore Operators Group who are a far from impartial, but the information they've released might be enough to turn a few heads and this is cause for concern. This isn't merely a happy generation of jobs with no consequences. What are we looking at here exactly? The report indicates that in order to fulfil demand we'll need to build 50 on-shore rigs, along with the fabrication of 8,000 miles of steel casing. Around 64,000 jobs will be created over an 18 year period across 4,000 shale gas wells, not to mention the tools that will need to be manufactured and transported to make this all work. Sounds like a boon for the economy doesn't it?
Fracking promises a lot. The Government figures supporting fracking promise a lot. But why the dash for gas? Why not invest in our energy infrastructure long term, producing clean, green energy for decades and centuries to come? The general consensus seems to be "drill now, think later" with nobody except environmental pressure groups asking the important questions. Fracking is devastating to our wildlife, our countryside and our climate too. The National Academy of Sciences recently released a cautionary report showing that methane emissions from gas wells are up to 1,000 times worse than what the Environmental Protection Agency predicted before the fracking horror story began.
It's worth asking too, why the Conservative Government are so vehemently opposed to onshore wind farming, attempting to cap their development to "protect our landscapes" and satisfy the whims of the wealthy nimby, but they're quite content to go setting up drilling rigs throuhgout the countryside, with a potentially devastating effect. No, this cap on onshore windfarms has nothing to do with protecting the countryside, it's about protecting the interests of an elite minority and of course, money.
There's little doubt that we could certainly generate energy from fracking, enough to get us through the next few years without having to worry, and that Britain is a very fertile place to excavate, but the Government are thinking more about the economy and the investment than anything else. We may have short term gain, but we're putting ourselves at a severe long term disadvantage in doing so.
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