Why I support fracking on my doorstep in Lancashire

This morning I got home to find a message from Laura at the Lancashire Evening Post. I rang back and Laura asked for 400 words on why I support fracking. This came out of a Radio 4 programme Beyond Belief which was broadcast yesterday http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006s6p6 . They were also contact a colleague Rev Chris Halliwell, who does not quite agree with me. http://www.blackburn.anglican.org/more_info.asp?current_id=469.

Anyway, here is what I sent;

To frack or not to frack.

Many think fracking is unsafe and causes earthquakes, pollutes air and water. Many of these are in RAFF’s (Residents action on Fylde Fracking) leaflet Shale gas; the facts, which claims 50% of wells leak in 15 years but do not mention this applies to off-shore OIL-wells in the USA, whereas none of the 2000 British onshore wells have leaked. They included a photo of the Jonah gas field in Wyoming[1], with wells two hundred yards apart, to show what will happen in England, not saying these were vertical wells not horizontally fracked.


However Cuadrilla says well-heads will be 2 to 6 km apart. Concerns about “chemicals” scare people, but Governor Hickinlooper of Colorado actually drank fracking fluid to make the point. A lot of water is used in fracking but gas power stations use less water than coal. The Preece Hall earthquakes at 1.5 and 2.3 could scarcely be felt. A 1.5 earthquake is like several sticks of dynamite. As a mining geologist I was tricked into going into a stope 40 yards long as the dynamite went off, and survived a 1.5 from yards away[2]! At Roseacre signs have appeared warning of the dangers of “minor tremors”. This is scaremongering.


In 2012 the Royal Society (i.e the best scientists in Britain) published a report on fracking which stressed that with proper regulations, fracking is no riskier than any other industrial process. Sadly many ignore this and other informed reports.


Fracking will be a blessing; – less gas from Russia (very topical) USA and Qatar; boosting the economy;. Gas replacing more polluting coal for power stations; gas being used for buses and trucks in cities improving air quality. This is for starters.


Some oppose fracking, because of Climate Change, but many leading economists see gas as a bridge to a more carbon-free future, as renewables will not provide 80% of needs by 2050. If we do not frack in Britain, we shall burn more coal and import gas, as the world has vast quantities of gas. However there must be no let-up in renewables and energy conservation to halt climate change.

The choice is stark. Either frack, or put millions into fuel poverty and wreck the economy.

My reasons? First my Christian faith demands both protection and careful use of the earth for the benefit of all. Secondly my environmental concerns are informed by science and technology. Thirdly the scaremongering of anti-frackers needs to be exposed.


[1] We have driven within 200 yard yards of it

[2] I have omitted my experiencing 4s and 5s and one at 8.6!!!

8 thoughts on “Why I support fracking on my doorstep in Lancashire

  1. John Gill

    I’m also a Christian living in the Fylde, I have a (non-professional) scientific background and have been taking an interest in the pros and cons of the proposed shale exploitation in the Fylde. A recent study by the University of Durham (https://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/refine/Publishedversion.pdf), backed by the British Geological Survey, contradicts two of your points in your opening paragraph.
    Section 4 of the study shows:
    1) between 2011-2012, 211 onshore shale gas wells (6.2% of the 3391 total wells drilled) in Pennsylvania were found to have leaked within 1 year of being drilled. There is no data (that I have yet found) showing the percentage of failed onshore shale gas wells after 15 years.
    2) In the UK, of the 143 still active onshore well pads (monitoring only began in 2000, and none of the decommissioned wells have been required to be checked for leakage), there have been 9 pollution incidents. Two were caused by well integrity failure, two were caused by pipe failure below ground. Four caused minor water pollution, three caused minor land pollution, and one caused minor air-borne pollution. Discounting the three incidents that caused no direct pollution, this is a 4% failure rate.

    These wells are all operated in accordance with the strict UK onshore drilling regulations, and it seems fair to assume that a 4% failure rate is a reasonable expectation for the proposed shale gas wells on the Fylde. Once the exploratory phase is complete, the total number of production wells that Cuadrilla intend to drill is still not confirmed, but estimates range from one to five thousand, (depending on who you ask) based on the assumption that Cuadrilla will strive to extract all of the technically recoverable gas in place, which is 33 teracubic feet, 10% of the 330tcf of Bowland shale gas identified by the BGS survey last year, (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/209021/BGS_DECC_BowlandShaleGasReport_MAIN_REPORT.pdf).

    With an anticipated 4% failure rate under the current onshore regulation regime, assuming worst case scenario of 5000 wells, this is 200 wells causing actual land, air and/or water pollution. Current onshore drilling regulations place no mandatory restrictions on positioning of wells with regard to proximity to properties, and the government is currently revising the planning permission process to reduce application time from currently 3 months (I think, not sure) to 14 days.(https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/283832/Planning_v3.pdf)

    I hope you find this information helpful. Personally, I am not yet satisfied with the regulation/planning regime for me to support full scale production drilling for shale gas on the Fylde. I think a critical first step would be to specify a mandatory minimum 1 mile exclusion zone from any residential or commercial properties, inside which well pads must not be placed.


  2. michaelroberts4004 Post author

    None of this is close to RAFF’s claim of 50%, which was scaremongering.

    Your suggestion of a one mile exclusion zone would mean that no drilling could be done in Britain except in National Parks and AONBs. If you look at the local OS map of Preston and Blackpool no well could be sited less than a mile from any commercial or residential properties except in the Forest of Bowland. That is unrealistic.


    1. michaelroberts4004 Post author

      I read that paper as soon as it came out and thought it would be used against fracking though it scarcely deals with fracking. The research was from case from 1996 to 2009. Fracking was not introduced to Colorado until about 2005. The survey is on all natural gas development which before 2005 was not horizontally fracked. From the paper the pollutants are from diesel etc at the wellhead and not what went down the hole. an earlier study was flawed as the pllutants could equally as well come from an Interstate -70 (motorway)
      I am writing up some of this and this is my draft
      This January reseaechers from Colorado School of Public Health published Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Prox imity to Natural Gas Development in Rural Colorado by Lisa M. McKenzie et al . They described several issues of births and put it down to proximity to oil and gas wells energyindepth were vary critical; “The team of researchers, based at the Colorado School of Public Health (CSPH), is famous within the activist community for claiming that people who live within a half-mile of a natural gas wells may have an increased lifetime cancer risk. That 2012 study – which didn’t actually show any meaningful increase in cancer rates – has morphed into one of the anti-fracking campaign’s most frequently used talking points. It was even cited in a celebrity “ban fracking” video last November that targeted Gov. John Hickenlooper “ http://energyindepth.org/mtn-states/colorado-health-department-disavows-activists-favorite-fracking-researchers/
      And cited Dr Larry Wolk of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment challenged this and wrote “It is difficult to draw conclusions from this study, due to its design and limitations. We appreciate continuing research about possible public health implications that may be associated with oil and gas operations in Colorado. With regard to this particular study, people should not rush to judgment.” And then gave several reasons why.

      First study I-70 http://energyindepth.org/ohio/dr-mckenzie-concedes-to-flaws-in-colorado-air-study/

      Thus fracking per se does not have this effect on pregnant women. Further people are exposed to a lot of polluting nasties from other sources


    2. Striebs

      Greenanglicans ,

      Your question comes across as condescending both in it’s tone and wording ; specifically the omission of the word “potential” or “possible” .

      I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that your concern for pregnant women and by inference also the children they are carrying is authentic and sincere .

      I hope green anglicans and Christians of all denominations make an effort to differentiate themselves from the primarily people hating policies of the wider green movement ; support of Chinese style population control and euthanasia .


  3. REAF

    “The PreeSe Hall earthquakes at 1.5 and 2.3 could scarcely be felt” – however the seismic activity buckled the well which is now leaking. It took Cuadrilla months to report on this. So, where is the monitoring / reporting and enforced requirement for such? Where are the fines for breaking terms of permissions? There aren’t any and that’s a BIG problem. Unless there is absolute transparency from operators and government departments people will find this unacceptable from the get go.


  4. michaelroberts4004 Post author

    You are simply incorrect to say that the well is leaking. I suggest you actually check your facts before commenting. It gets very wearying having to correct these type of errors so many times.



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