A fracking injustice

Opposition to fracking is often presented as Climate Justice and many who oppose fracking will claim to have a strong social conscience and to be concerned for climate justice and social justice.

I am not sure that Arthur Parson, now a jobless person from Longridge, Lancashire would agree with them, so now READ Arthur’s story: the human cost of ‪#‎fracking‬ opposition in the UK

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I’m Arthur Parson, a Lancashire resident that was lucky enough to get a well paying job with one of the main drilling contractors for Cuadrilla a few years ago, after several years of no work.

But here I am without a job again because, in the last two weeks, I’ve been made redundant.

My employer had been lined up to drill up to 8 new exploration wells on the Fylde. But then councillors refused planning permission for Cuadrilla’s proposed sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood, and everything changed.

The drilling firm that I was working for is an SME, and just couldn’t afford to carry my wages when the Cuadrilla work didn’t come off.

Sadly, I’m not the only one affected.

Another local lad, Neil Harrison, has also lost his job, along with 36 others.

Many of us are family men, and so being made redundant doesn’t just impact us, but our wives and children too.

The people that are against shale gas here don’t seem to have any real understanding of the human costs of their opposition. They are so fixated on winning, that they either forget or just overlook the effects they are having on ordinary, hardworking people like me. For them, the end justifies the means, come what may.

I don’t think that’s fair.

I’m especially bothered by the fact that so many of the people attempting to block shale gas going ahead in Lancashire aren’t even from here. They’re from much wealthier parts of the country, where the need for good jobs isn’t as pressing. During the week of planning meetings at County Hall at the end of June, activists arrived from all over the country in specially laid-on buses just to create the impression of mass opposition.

Why should my local elected representatives listen to people with no connection to this area? Why should those people get away with blocking something that could create lots of new jobs whilst supporting many others that already exist? And why should people like me bear the brunt of their opposition?

Locals living near the proposed sites have been frightened into thinking that it isn’t safe for them or the environment. But I’ve worked on drilling sites for a number of years now, and I have seen them operated safely with my own eyes.

I know it is done properly in this country, not because someone has told me it is, but because I’ve been directly involved myself and experienced it first-hand.

If there really were noxious fumes coming off these sites, it would be workers like me and my colleagues that would be most exposed to them, but none of us has been affected. None of us has developed any sort of life changing or life threatening illness, and none of the older generation of oil and gas workers that I’ve met have either – even though they’ve been doing it a lot longer.

It’s easy for people to suggest that all the companies involved in shale gas are only in it for the profits and will cut corners on safety, but there is no evidence of that at all. I’ve received a huge amount of expensive safety training in my time with my employer, and have had to work to very exacting standards imposed by the operators we’ve been working for.

Drilling for shale gas is no less safe and no more disruptive than other civil engineering activities, if it’s done properly.

That’s why I’m writing to my MP, Ben Wallace, to tell him my story and to ask him to take my plight to the Prime Minister. This government has said it is supportive of safe and responsible shale gas exploration because it could boost the economy and create jobs – I want to know what it plans to do in order to safeguard existing jobs and prevent politically and ideologically motivated anti-fracking opponents from putting more people like me out of work.

I had hoped that, when they met on Thursday last week to discuss the report produced by its own environmental panel, Preston City Council members would have voted to accept the recommendations of the report and give their backing to fracking as a job creating new industry. I’m disappointed that they didn’t.

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This is one of the reasons why we’re backing fracking. We need gas, and lots of it. We should be able to extract our own and create jobs rather than rely on gas from other countries that doesn’t create many jobs. And we should be able to ensure that people like Arthur have the chance of good jobs with prospects, not dead-end, low paid, zero-hours jobs.

BackingFracking's photo.
I took this from the Backing Fracking FB page but I have met Arthur and some others who have lost jobs.
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Now you have read it I wonder what you thought. Now let’s go back to the end of June with the meetings in County Hall When the council threw out the application for Cuadrilla to drill two exploratory sites in the Fylde, so they could drill to see if there were sufficient gas.
(The week before these meetings I was with three professors of geology from Oxford looking at outcrops of Bowland shale in the Forest of Bowland and Pendle Hill. When we found some Bowland Shale which was more like glutinous clay, one (a leading petroleum geologist) said that if that what was two miles down on the Fylde no gas could be extracted. If you don’t look you won’t know.)
Before I left I met another down in the mouth person, who had been promised a job but that had now fallen through. Gone was the chance of a steady well-paid job and instead he would have to take benefits and hopefully get the odd job. Ironically those who lost him the job would speak far more about social justice than those “money-grabbing capitalists” seeking to “cash in” on fracking. Ooops, I mock!
Whatever happened fracking exploration would have given some jobs for a few years and not only the dozen or so working on the drilling pad. These would be groundwork specialisst, haulage, waste management, hotels and many other things. But then there is no unemployment in Preston or Blackpool – NOT.
If the prospecting were successful and gas extraction became viable, then the increase of employment would be significant giving a boost to the whole Lancashire.
As the much-maligned Stuart Perigo pointed out in his admirable and critical assessment of the risks and potential of fracking, the environmental arguments put forward against fracking are baseless and I don’t have to go into that again. However that anti-groups including the scientifically-informed Geyzer Frackman (not), Mike Hill, FoE, Greenpeace ( Here’s Ken on Greenpeace https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/greenpeace-is-wrong-over-fracking/ ) and others demonstrated that they do not understand aspects of science in the environment and prefer to make it up.
But what baffles me is that many claim to be motivated by a concern for social justice, which must include wishing to ensure people are not unemployed and then kick so many in the teeth and ensure they remain un- or under-employed. (Maybe Ben Wallace is more of a true socialist than any on Fylde area Labour!!!) Yet those parities on the Left – Labour, Greens, Lib-Dems claim to be more concerned for social justice than the Tories yet their actions show the exact opposite. It seems to be enforced Austerity in the name of social and Climate justice. Perhaps they, rather than the Tories, should be called the austerity parties!
It also seems that the Lancashire Churches are no better  as can be seen on the Churches Together in Lancashire website http://www.ctlancashire.org.uk/issues/ . It distresses me that the churches have pushed such an agenda, which goes against both of Jesus Christ’s Two Great Commandments (You shall love God with all your heart… and your neighbour as yourself) . From the articles on that website page it is clear that not only do the churches get their facts wrong about fracking and buy into the anti-fracking narrative, with pseudo-environmental arguments, but cannot see beyond this to care for the future well-being of Lancashire people, many of whom do not have adequate jobs or are unemployed.
But some may ask why I, as a retired vicar with no financial interests in fracking, should put my head above the parapet and write this, which will be seen as controversial by some.
First, from my study (and note I began my working life as an exploration and mining geologist) I found there were no serious environmental or health risks from fracking.
Secondly, following Prof Dieter Helm and others including the “Ecomodernists” I see that if shale gas is viable it will actually be better for Climate Change targets than banning it. I  – and they – consider shale gas as a bridge fuel to something better and greener – whatever that could be in the future. It seems that some have chosen a non-existent perfect for an already existing “fairly good”.
Thirdly, following on from those two points, I see shale gas as potentially improving the economic position both of Lancashire (and Yorkshire) as well as the whole nation.
Fourthly, we would be very silly not to go ahead and find out what is there and then develop it.
There is a clear moral reason for doing so, whether you are a Christian or not.
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8 thoughts on “A fracking injustice

  1. Paul Braterman

    Reblogged this on Primate's Progress and commented:
    ore fracking (or any other source of natural gas) means less CO2 by a factor of 2 compared with coal (and even less than with oil) per unit of energy, a lower oil price, good reason to support fracking if you don’t approve of global warming, and cheaper fuel therefore less revenue for Saudi Arabia and for Islamic State (which now controls Syria’s oil); good reason to support fracking if you don’t approve of beheading.

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  2. etgs

    And what about weakening of the earth’s mantle from intense fracking resulting in earthquakes? Sems to me to be asking for trouble if fracking exploited in mountainous/hilly regions. Large land masses can accommodate such invasive activity, eg USA. But can a relatively small island such as Britain withstand intensive fracking?

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    1. michaelroberts4004 Post author

      Thanks for that. Drilling for fracking goes down less than 2 miles and the crust in Britain is 20 to 30 miles thick sothat as the mantle is below that it cant be touched anyway. Also many mines go down 2 miles and never caused a problem. The mantle cannot be affected, so no worries

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      1. etgs

        How do you explain the earthquake following the initial fracking in Cumberland and which forced the Frackers to stop their activities? The thickness of a geologically disturbed mantle is an invalid counter to earthquakes stimulated by fracking!

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      2. michaelroberts4004 Post author

        Actually it was Lancashire 10 miles from my house, like a lorry going by. No damage. As explosive force is only a few grenades it wont affect the mantle many miles down. If it could/would then hiroshima a few million times more powerful would have blown the Japanese mantle to bits

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      3. etgs

        The thickness of the mantle at Hiroshimo and Nagasaki is pertinent in the atomic explosion towards the end of WW2. The flaw in the thickness is when explosive drilling occurs in a geographical region already crumpled in the past by tectonic or similar ground movements. By way of example I suspect that any Fracker doing his stuff on the San Andreas fault line is inviting serious repercussions!

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  3. Donald

    Thirty-eight jobs, especially ‘well-paid’ – read ‘excessively remunerated’ – jobs, should not factor into the decision to frack or not. Were Hitler’s gas chambers a good idea because they saved a few soldiers from redundancy? An independence from Islamic oil is to be welcomed, but let’s be honest about what we want, and why we want it. Gas might be less noxious than coal, but every new source of carbon fuel is another impediment to ‘clean’ energy.

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