Category Archives: Fracking

Stuff on fracking , mostly in Lancashire

Copper Issues of the Metal Type Make EVs A Poor Choice!

To many environmentalists this blog must be wrong as it comes from a “dodgy” source – Natural Gas Now – an american pro-fracking blog.

However he is absolutely right to argue that EVs will founder on the lack of copper, as supplies and reserves are simply far to low to make the transition and electrify to go for EVs.

Most will not admit to this, but anyone with a little knowledge of mining , and especially copper mining will know that it is essentially correct.

In the UK we could solve the problem by opening up two ginormous opencast mines in snowdonia, one by Dolgellau and the other digging up the whole area around Betws Y Coed.

I claim some knowledge as I worked as a section gweologist in a Ugandan copper mine, surveyed an old mine in South Africa (it was too small) and prospected a few thousand square miles for copper.

Source: Copper Issues of the Metal Type Make EVs A Poor Choice!

Bishops’ move against Big Oil. Backwards not Diagonal

Early in my ministry in the Church of England I found very few fellow priests who were bothered about the environment. Apart from Hugh Montefiore, who was regarded as a bit odd on this and no lover of Concorde, few were concerned. It was brought home to me in 1982, while on the Liverpool Diocese Board of Social Responsibility. I took advantage of bringing up the need for care of the environment, citing the cleanliness or not of the River Mersey. I was met with stony silence and my request never even made it to the minutes of the meeting.

I had a concern for the environment since working for a mining company in Africa over a decade earlier, but found no interest in the church, so ploughed my own furrow. I soon was convinced by all the arguments of Friends of the Earth et al – and E F Schumacher (who lived opposite my school) on nuclear energy – and from 1980 turned vicarage gardens into wildlife havens.

Then slowly the church turned and now we have leaders asking for no more fossil fuels. I don’t have space to discuss all the issues of the environment which have come up in the last 30 years, except to say that some approaches today are more bonkers than mine were in the 70s. My concerns predated any concerns over Global Warming/Climate Change, to which I was converted by Sir John Houghton in 1998, having had a geological scepticism before that. I had worked on Precambrian glaciation so was aware of a fluctuating climate. I cannot see how anyone can doubt that Climate Change is a serious issue, but I suggest many will wonder about me after reading this blog!

My concern is this letter from Church Leaders to the Government produced in March 2022. Also involved were Operation Noah, Cafod, Christian, Aid, Tear Fund and A Rocha, who, perhaps, provided the ideas behind the letter.

The Operation Noah press release can be read here;

To many this will be an excellent prod to encourage the government to do the “right thing”. After all Christians should care for creation and this call to reduce fossil fuels must be an excellent idea. Or is it?

Oh that were the case but this letter shows a poor understanding of energy issues, transitions from fossil fuel, and is fatally marred by seeing everything in a binary way as clean or dirty fuels. Nuclear energy is just ignored and no questions are asked about the vast amount of metals from Copper to Rare Earths (and attendant pollution) needed to get away from fossil fuels. Or fertilizer from the Haber-Bosch process, which depends on fossil fuels. There is no reference to hunger in a world where many rely on artificial fertilizers, which are made from petroleum. They also ignored the value of plastics in many things including medicine. Further they do not even consider the problem that renewables are intermittent and often produce very little electricity. No mention is made that storage of power is very limited – a matter of hours when it needs to be weeks.

At best the appeal is naive but if successful will cause untold suffering as many are forced into fuel poverty. It will also, make the church look silly.  Somehow we have to balance getting to Net Zero ASAP without great human suffering or pollution caused by unthinking green policies.


OPEN LETTER FROM CHURCH LEADERS TO BORIS JOHNSON AND RISHI SUNAK (Deadline for signatures: Wednesday 23 March at 12 noon via this form)

(Here I give the whole text of the letter and make comments on certain parts as quotations- i.e. like this;

The letter misunderstands this for the following reasons~!!)

Dear Prime Minister and Chancellor,

Spring Statement and Energy Security Strategy

As Church leaders from across the UK, we urge you to ensure a rapid shift from fossil fuels to clean energy in the upcoming Spring Statement and the UK’s new energy security strategy.

My comment is that this is based on the simplistic binary division of energy into clean or dirty. Fossil fuels are dirty, renewables are clean. In fact none are clean as this shows;


Not even electric is clean, even from wind or solar, due to all the materials needed to build the Grid and turbines and solar farms. Turbines are squalidly dirty when built on peat.

In fact, the materials, especially metals needed, are why no energy can be clean. Turbines look both stately and clean and solar gives off no emissions, but the amount of minerals needed is horrendous, along with disruption of the environment, especially if built on peat..

Just take one metal -Copper. On this I must say that I’ve worked underground in an African copper mine (and got CO poisoning), re-surveyed an ancient mine and prospected a few thousand square miles to work out the potential for copper. A recent calculation showed that for the UK to be 33% EV by 2030 then an additional 40,000tons of copper are needed annually. That is what a  tiny mine would produce and had my ancient mine had that amount in toto i.e 2 million tons of Copper ore at 2%, then it was probably viable. I would need to find a similar sized mine every year until 2030 and that is just for Britain. Possible reserves in Anglesey and Cornwall could produce 500,000 tones of copper, which is a fraction of what EVs need.

So how much would you need on a worldwide basis?

The figure is astronomical and would be at least a 50% increase on annual copper demand, which could not be met by recycling.

Where would the copper come from?

Now repeat it for Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and the Rare Earths. Lithium is already shooting up in price.


Those who have a gung-ho outlook on renewables never ever ask this question and it is left for a few geologists to bring it up but it is not heard. Most I mention it to have never heard of the problem, even if they are solidly green.

Add to all that all the waste rock from mining and the water needed to mine.

This plan needs urgently to tackle the climate emergency and the cost of living crisis affecting millions of the most vulnerable people in our country, including many of our Church members.

This is clearly essential but how will banning any new UK oil and gas do this? All it will do will make us dependent on imports and the vagaries of the market. It also ignores the fact that much petroleum is not used for energy.


Or more visually. What are these church leaders going to stop using?


The letter simply fails to see, whether we like it or not, we will still be using fossil fuels in the 2040s. Better for all to use our own.; less emissions by avoiding importing, and lots of tax revenues to spend on the more vulnerable. Even dishy Rishi might be happy.

We welcome the UK Government’s decision to ban Russian oil and gas imports, which are fuelling the catastrophic war in Ukraine.

Why are we importing from Russia?

Before about 2013 virtually no gas was imported from Russia whether to Britain or much of the EU. (I’d need to check details on EU.) The amount has increased year by year. Yet both Britain and the EU rejected fracking their own gas reserves due to the pressure from Green groups, who did not have a penchant for rigorous accuracy.

At times the stories put out by greens were face-palming for their errors and these were echoed by church groups, as I found in the Diocese of Blackburn. I still smile to read that Acetic  and citric acid are pollutants. That would mean no vinegar or lemon juice with fish and chips. When diocesan environmental officers make that type of howler we have a problem.

All the green groups took up the anti-fracking cause and often appeared on RT – Russia Television, where there were given the red carpet to expound their cause. Putin must have loved it! Friends of the Earth when two OAPs reported them to the Advertising Standards Authority for misleading leaflets. I do not know why FoE is regarded as a flagship environmental group.

Artificial Fertilizers

Oil and gas is not only needed for fuel but also as a feedstuff for artificial fertilizers without which many would starve.  This is the Haber-Bosch process which artificially fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere for fertilizers. A major producer is Ukraine and already the war  putting these under threat. Why wasn’t this mentioned in the letter? Organic sounds wonderful, and you can practice it in your garden or in a few farms, but it will not feed the world. To get rid of oil means you close down the Haber-Bosch process which would result in serious starvation.  Further those opponents of GMOs, like Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion did their best to stop GMOs which fixed nitrogen.

However much one might prefer organic food a rapid transition spells disaster as in Sri Lanka.

This is not to say the present agricultural system is ideal or even good. Overuse of artificial fertilizer is a serious problem, with run-off into rivers. My own view is that it is not good, and at times horrific, and needs to move to “mixed economy” of artificial AND organic along with a form of rewilding and regenerative agriculture. This has come from both the non-organic and organic sector.

It is not helped by many, especially church green groups supporting LOAF; Local, Organic, Animal-friendly and Fair Trade.

The Organic is the most contentious as so much of our food is grown using artificial fertilizers. When presented as dogma it is not helpful.

Blackburn Environmental Group expects members to support LOAF, which means I could not be in that Group, despite having had largely organic gardens for over 40 years, with a compost bin!! This means that the group will only allow one perspective on the environment, rather like only allowing conservative evangelicals on the evangelism and mission committee! I will go further and say the churches on the environment have followed only one narrative and that is anti-big oil. Thus any statement is very one-sided, and thus I am as bad as any red-neck driller who cares nowt about creation!!

Many green and aid groups, Christian or not, have often opposed GMOs and non-organic farming  – without providing an alternative. 15 years ago Christian aid was very opposed to GMOs, and along with Green Christian have help to create a negative image of GMOs. I know I may have gone off on a tangent on Organic and GMOs, but this illustrates the way too many christian greens think and close down a diversity of views. But it was not a tangent as it is all part of an extreme green agenda. Getting rid of oil will also mean getting rid of fertilizers and pushing many into hunger.

We need to see that as fracking was stopped in UK and EU due to misinformation from Green groups, other sources had to be found. Russia were happy to oblige, as are Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Now as the whole of Europe is dependent on Russian gas we should see the problem. Whether fracking would have provided enough gas we don’t know as protesting green groups made sure that even proper exploration and assessment could not happen.

Here is a meme from 2015 based on a wildly inaccurate Guardian article. BTW Sir Mark Walport never never never said what the meme and guardian ascribed to him.


The UK has a duty to demonstrate global leadership on the climate crisis, as hosts of the recent COP26 climate summit and as we continue to hold the COP Presidency.

We call on you to use the Spring Statement to provide financial and fiscal support for renewable energy and energy efficiency, especially solar and wind energy

Now that sounds very good, but it does not consider the position of renewable energy today. Turbines and solar farms seem a nice clean way of obtaining energy, and at times produce half of electrical power. However half of electrical energy  is only a quarter of all energy used in the UK as most transport, industry and heating depends on fossils fuels.

Much of the green media trumpet the success when renewables produce 50% of electricity, but go quiet when little is produced as when there is no wind or sun. This happened in December and now during this week of the spring equinox. As a result most electricity is produced by GAS powered power stations and COAL is brought in to cover the shortfall. Most of last week and this week more electricity comes from coal rather than wind.

Consider these graphics for 24th March 2022. These show how little wind is contributing to electrical generation.




Redraw that graph in your minds removing gas and then nuclear. Without them never more than 12k MV were produced, whereas at least 25k was needed – at midnight and at most 36k. At most 5k was produced from wind and solar, dropping to 1 or 2k at night. Yes, it was windless, but even so there is a massive gap between generation from renewables and what is actually needed. Pragmatism rather than ideology is needed.

The graph below shows the difference between demand and actual supply from wind power. It’s going to take a very looooooooooooong time to bridge that gap. Jumping to renewables now and closing down fossil fuels will simply creating a massive energy gap.


and for most of March. Gas is dominant


Renewables sound lovely in theory and their capacity may equal that of fossil fuels but when the is no wind or sunshine, no energy is produced, so the capacity is effectively very small.  Sunshine at night is obvious but to get to reasonable amounts from wind you need a wind speed of 15  mph or more. Above 20 mph turbines are whirring but cycling is unpleasant!! No matter how large the capacity, absence of wind or sun means little energy is produced.

Another unaddressed issue is the question of energy storage. Electricity produced has to be used immediately in the absence of storage and at present there is minimal storage. “Big batteries” may store enough for a few hours, but to be effective storage must be enough for several weeks, as that is how long a windless or sunless spell can last. The church leaders did not consider this and when we look for it we find a glib appeal to battery storage. The technology is not ready yet and without storage renewables cannot supply energy needs. Any transition is going to be slower that the technological change.

Here is a technical article laying out what is needed for 24 days storage.

We must ask how quickly does a transition need to be to make up for that shortfall. Any realistic assessment will suggest many years and not before 2040.

Above all if we are going to transition then we must have something to transition to, or rather the same amount of power for electricity, transport and heating.

Nuclear Energy?

Surprisingly (or not) no mention was made of nuclear energy and I suggest this was deliberate as many green groups are as opposed to nuclear as fossil fuel. Green groups have campaigned against nuclear for over half a century and sucked in many (including myself until I deconverted)

and the retrofitting of homes

That covers many things whether insulation or new heating systems. It cannot be denied that most Britons have been dilatory about insulation over the last 50 years. Many simply did not bother. Over the decades I found we were out of step or ahead as we went for basic insulation and energy saving. Some may remember the ginormous and expensive lightbulbs of the mid-eighties.

As well as many not bothering there was no inducement for landlords to insulate. I remember last century persuading the Parsonage Board to pay for fibreglass insulation for me to install.

Today retrofitting for insulation is very expensive if the maximum is done. In 2013 we moved into a dormer bungalow which had little insulation except cavity wall. On moving in we did the low hanging fruit for about £1000 or so – thick curtains, one ceiling insulated for £400 (I should have done more), improved loft insulation, trapdoor  (no cost as I had the right-sized wood and old carpet), draught elimination etc. I worked it out that without grants it would take 20 years to recoup the expenditure needed on reduced bills to pay for full insulation.

New heating is more problematical. Most rely on gas, but any replacements is not cheap and beyond the budgets of half the population. This includes heat pumps, which have something unproven about them.

This raises some issues but retrofitting will take years and is costly. Appeals sound good but are often not very achievable.

and other buildings across the UK. These measures would reduce heating bills, decrease carbon emissions and increase our energy security.

Clearly, any insulation etc will reduce all of these. Something should also be said about transport and landscaping for saving energy. We need more evangelistic cycling bishops.

The Spring Statement must include no support for new oil and gas developments. The International Energy Agency has stated that there can be no new fossil fuel developments if we are to limit global heating to 1.5°C.

As oil and gas will not be phased out completely before 2050 there will have to be new developments in many parts of the world, if not the UK, then USA, Middle East, Africa etc. We need to ask whether Saudi Arabia is more just  than Russia as , e.g. 80 executed in one day in the last month.

At present by rejecting Russia we need to get oil and gas from the Middle East and USA, as Britain produces insufficient oil or gas. Yet there are untapped off-shore and on-shore sources. Some on-shore  wells have been producing since before WWII, and the fracked well at Elswick in Lancs  has been producing gas since the 1990s. (Yes, this well was fracked and I have copies of the drill logs and the chemicals used for fracking!!). There several potential fields off-shore and the potential for gas was not  fully explored in Lancs and Yorks (and 6000ft below my house) before the plug was pulled. The advantage of homegrown oil and gas is that no gas is lost in transit, as happens with LNG and instead of paying high prices to producers the government would gain large tax revenues, which could then be put into retrofitting. Slamdunk. QED.

New oil and gas production will not deliver lower energy bills for families facing fuel poverty and will have no impact on energy supply for years.

This is an old mantra and thrown out to stop the discussion.

The use of UK oil and gas gives a tax windfall, over imports.

How many years? This sounds like a typical green objection from their playbook.In the 40s during WWII A new oil field was opened up in months in the Midlands, so it may not take years as opponents to fracking claim.

We urge you to increase support for vulnerable households across the UK facing a cost of living crisis as a result of increasing food and energy prices, through measures including a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

i find this a bit rich as many church groups eg Operation Noah, Green Christian. Operation Noah, Diocesan Environment Groups have joined in with Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion etc demonising “big oil”, and failing to see that without workable alternatives to “big oil” and their products, a rapid change to renewables makes the cost of living crisis worse.

Many of our Churches have set 2030 net zero targets and are taking action to decarbonise our buildings, including through the installation of solar panels, heat pumps and other energy efficiency measures.

General Synod’s Net Zero 2030 aim was simply absurd and will result in failure. far better would be to concentrate on what can be done to church buildings etc, and encourage all church members and beyond to consider their own homes, travel and gardens and how efficiencies and improvements will reduce carbon footprints.

An example of failure cause by impatience and devotion to Net Zero is fitting a church with a hydrogen-based system. It simply did not work and had to be replaced – with another OIL BOILER.

More than 2,000 churches across the UK participated in Climate Sunday ahead of COP26 and called on the UK Government to unleash a clean energy revolution and limit global heating to 1.5°C.

Unleash? What will they unleash? It doesn’t exist!!!!

Between them, UK Churches have more than £20 billion of assets under management. Working with other investors, Churches can make a significant impact in tackling the climate crisis and in supporting a fair and fast transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy.

Any transition will not be fast as fossil fuels will still be used in 2050 both for energy and plastics. How can you have a fast transition without new energy sources  in place?

We need to do far more than intone; Clean and dirty, green, renewables, transition etc.

The International Energy Agency stated last year that achieving the world’s climate goals requires the finance flowing to renewable energy projects to treble by 2030. We call on the UK Government to implement the policies to enable this to happen.

This will increase capacity but production depends on wind and sun!

there is no point until there is energy storage to avoid a Dunkelflaute when wind and sun fail.

Now is the time to end our dependence on fossil fuels and fund a fair and fast transition, which will secure our future economic prosperity and protect the livelihoods of vulnerable communities.

It can only be the time to end our dependence on fossil fuels, when alternatives are in place. Renewables simply cannot provide the energy needed for our society to function. Until then we are stuck with fossil fuels

This is simply a myopic view considering only fossil fuels with no consideration to what alternatives are available. Sadly this misplaced vision has been pushed not only by secular green groups and more recently Extinction Rebellion but Christian Groups lie  Operation Noah  ( Bright Now) and other groups who support and are behind the letter.

To conclude the letter is simply ill thought out and demonstrated a total one-sided and a lack of knowledge or understanding of energy issues.

Yours sincerely,

Followed by 500 signatures.



The letter is a simple message go renewable now.

It has a narrow focus as if it is a simple solution of get rid off fossil fuels and move to renewables.

This assumes it is possible to do it and will be a rapid transition. It cannot be if only as there is no effective storage as yet.

They also see fossil fuels only in relation to energy and fail to see oil used for fertilizer and necessary materials eg plastic, which is essential in hospitals. Also our water supply needs chlorine, which is obtained from brine using natural gas at Widnes.

The letter is marred by a Tunnel vision against fossil fuels

They fail to register any benefits; longevity, health, material wealth (both excessive and moderate) travel, even these come with environmental and climate costs.

They see only one solution to climate change and ignore changes to agriculture, trees, and lifestyle.

It is very one-sided, relying on  poor advice or research probably with  a conscious or unconscious bias. This typifies work of green groups.

It is almost the churches’ equivalent of Extinction Rebellion, who over-egg their arguments and are often inaccurate.  It is surprising that any bishop would support them.

For myself prior to ordination I was mining and exploration geologist focusing on copper. I have long been an environmentalist and look to the breadth of environmental issues.

Antifracking goes upmarket!

In the heady days of the protests outside the fracking site at Preston New Road one got used to the scruffy temporary buildings, the Nanas smoking fags, occasional visits from the elite from the Green Party – and, of course, Geza Frackman /Tarjani who made friends with everyone and has yet to be vaccinated. along with that was the barrage of disinformation from the various frackfree groups, who got upset when dissected.

Friends of the Earth had a go too, and got their knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority


We were told how massive quakes would bring down houses, many would get cancer (sometimes said just after having a fag), water courses would be polluted, fracking fluid contain dangerous chemicals, wildlife would be destroyed, and the traffic would be excessive. all these claims were neutered by reputable bodies, but they were repeated ad nauseam.

Below is a poster on Preston New Road, and a meme based on a dodgy comment from an activist scientist, wrongly ascribed to Sir Mark Walport by the Graudain



Of course, anyone who supported fracking was a climate denier, capitalist pig, a Tory lacky, a shill for big oil and so on. The churches fell for it and repeated the same stories in their publicity.

Fracking came to a sudden stop in 2018 after a Mag 3 tremor, which wouldn’t even get a mention in San Francisco, where they occur almost weekly. In 2019 a moratorium was imposed by the government, which still allowed geothermal energy which results in larger “quakes”.

Now it seems that the antifracking horror stories have been taken on by such august groups as the Conservative Environment Network (of which more in another blog and the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit  ECIU

It has an impressive board “The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit’s Advisory Board reflects the breadth of interest within Britain in energy and climate change issues. Members of the board advise ECIU on matters of science, economics, policy, community interest and communication. ECIU is deeply appreciative of their advice, support and involvement.” It includes Michael Howard, Andrea Leadsom, Lord Puttnam and Lord Krebs among others. Their purpose is summed up:

   We support journalists, parliamentarians and other communicators with accurate and accessible briefings on key issues, and work with individuals and organisations that have interesting stories to tell, helping them connect to the national conversation.

Sadly this tweet does not live up to that ideal and is sweeping, biased and inaccurate. The Nanas would have been proud of it.


The four negative arguments against fracking are simplistic and could come out of the Friends of the Earth play book.

1 Geology Of course the geology is different, as it is in various parts of the USA! The strata in Pennsylvania are much more folded and faulted than those in New Mexico! In UK oil and gas has been safely extracted near Studland, the Weald, Leicestershire, Yorkshire  and in Lancashire, Formby and Elswick, close to the cuadrilla sites. Many of these involved fracking e.g Elswick

2. Industry can’t do sums That needs explanation and is irresponsible with substantiation.

3. Little impact on prices The price to the customer is only part of the issue. British produced gas may not be cheaper but it has two advantages. First, tax revenues would be very valuable. Secondly, importing gas involves increase of emissions due to transport  and loss of gas in transit. Meanwhile we simply import gas from all over the world and haven’t even checked whether there is gas under the north of England.

4 Unpopular For ten years green groups had a sustained campaign of misinformation and scaremongering. A good example is Friends of the Earth who were hauled over the coals by the Advertising Standards Authority. Living 10 miles from the Lancashire site, I came across many examples of locals being given false information. No wonder it is unpopular.

The unpopularity was proclaimed after 25,000 letters of objection were sent to Lancashire County Council in 2015. As I wrote in my blog back in 2015 ”  Out of all the objections , over 18000 were template letters templates & 11500 from outside Lancashire.”  The template letter was full of misrepresentation too.

Really ECIU should be more politically savvy. 

The Diagram.

The diagram presents fracking as a very dirty and dodgy method, and if it were true I would oppose fracking everywhere! But;

Consider each snippet of text.

  1. Yes, it uses loads of water as does every other source of energy e.g. nuclear and coal. Often the water can be re-used.
  2. Oh yeah! Some of the chemicals are hazardous to health. This harks back to the list of over 600 dangerous chemicals in a list made in the USA nearly 10 years ago. Most are no longer used in the USA and almost all banned inn the UK. In the UK, the main chemical  – 98% – is that lethal substance water. Along with that some surfacants are used  (same as in kitchen products.) In 2015 a Friends of the Earth leaflet claimed carcinogens were used. It was slated after complaints from cuadrilla and two OAPs by the Advertising Standards Agency. Under pressure  on BBC Northwest  Dr Tony Bosworth of Friends of the Earth identified the carcinogen  – SAND!!!!! In fact Governor Hickenlooper  of Colorado actually drank some!
  3. Methane can leak or be vented. Yes, a little is. This can either be by accident or necessary during exploration.  As firms want to sell the gas, they don’t want leaks as that means loss of profit
  4. Spills and leaks of fracking fluid. That is always possible, whenever fluids are involved – eg agricultural run-off, sewage or industrial pollutants polluting land and waterways. None should happen. Great care is taken on fracking sites – evident to all who visited them. The site at Preston New Road was carefully protected as I saw on several occasions. There were no spills or leaks with Cuadrilla. Some happened in the USA but were mostly due to badly constructed wells.
  5. The casings are considerable and effective. 
  6. Oh dear, the picture of ponds is so American. Yes the ponds for contaminated waste water. However these ponds are not allowed in the UK and the water has to be taken off site to be treated.
  7. Horizontal  drilling! Yes, but they should have made it clear that the actual fracking is done about 6000ft below surface so there is no chance of cracks making it to surface. The maximum extent of cracks has been found to be 1000ft, so still a mile belwo surface.

It is surprising, or not, that the ECIU used a hostile American diagram, which was produced not to inform ABOUT fracking, but to persuade against fracking. The diagram is UNTRUE for fracking in the USA and doubly untrue for fracking in the UK.

This is very careless slovenly reflecting badly on the ECIU. It seems that inexperienced and ill-informed employees are allowed to make public statements on social media.


finally the diagram is typical of “popular” diagrams produced to “explain” fracking. Most contain serious errors, but none give are fair picture of just how deep down fracking will take place. Form diagrams one would conclude a few hundred feet, whereas it is 6000 to 8000ft, i.e double the height of most British mountains. Imagine having to climb a mountain twice as high as Snowdon or Scafell!!

Before that here’s another dodgy diagram

antifrack (2)

Now a undodgy diagram:



Who caused the present energy crisis?

Here is an interesting letter to The Times  (5/2/22) on the energy crisis of today. Not all will agree with it but I think it is spot on.


As a Christian I always get narked at those like Richard Dawkins who say that us believers go for faith without evidence and thus what we believe is unprovable and untrue. I could write on this, but suffice it to say that there is evidence for the existence of Jesus and details in the New Testament. But I won’t be a God-botherer today.

For many years I have got increasingly fed up with appeals for “renewables” as if they will solve every energy crisis. A times it comes out as a mantra or an item of credal faith. Most green groups from FoE, Greenpeace to wildlife Trusts  and the National Trust sing from the same hymn/herrsheet. It is now political orthodoxy in all parties; Greens, Labour, LibDem and tories as they are swept along with the renewable tide, as if they can replace fossil fuels NOW..

I suggest they never look at the figures for energy sources for electricity production. When it is windy like today (and far too windy to cycle 6th Feb 22) renewables, largely wind, make a good showing but as soon as the wind drops gas is ramped up and coal comes into play.

One of the best accounts of why renewables are no panacea is to found in Prof dieter Helm’s recent book Net Zero, how we stop causing climate change.  Helm is no climate denier or sceptic but is fully aware of problems, both technical and political. The section on pp34-6 should be read by all. In the last y30 years renewables have made virtually no contribution to energy demand. Period.

December 2021 was a time of no wind and little sun and renewables flopped – ein dunkelflaute as the Germans would say. More gas was used and also coal.


This figures for one day show that renewables are very far off from making a real impact, yet for a decade it has almost been an item of faith that renewables will provide. At times some will just say the word “renewables” as if that will provide the power. No kid, I’ve heard it too many times. Within the churches, the Ecocongregation project is almost entirely in favour of renewables.

What so many fail to see is that the transition away from fossil fuels cannot happen overnight, whether for electricity or transport. On average renewables may produce nearly 50% of electricity (but not heating and transport, which is often ignored), but on a cold windless winter’s night, with a ridge of high pressure, renewables will produce nearly zero.

The usual green narrative is completely blind to this and think fossil fuels can soon be phased out. Oh that they could be! The transition has two major hurdles, the first is the capability of renewables which is a long way off, The second is less obvious and is the immense amount of additional metals needed for the transition, eg Cu, Co, Ni, Li and the rare earths. To give an indication; just to provide 100% replaced by electric cars the consumption of Copper needs to double from now on from the present usage of 100,000 tons. That requires some very large copper mines. One of the largest in Southern Africa is Tsumeb in Namibia which produced about 1.7 million tons of copper in the century it was open.  That is 20 years supply for the UK. Now multiply that for every country to go electric! Many do not acknowledge this major hurdle.

Those most qualified to judge have made this clear many times, but amateurs from green groups continue with the mantra of renewables.

Just consider two with much understanding

Helm Preface

not be in the money anytime soon  ix

david Mackay

Letter to the Times, 5th Feb 2022


Kelly makes some very strong statements here, which are very sound.

He says that bowing to climate alarmists and renewable energy lobbyists, coal and nuclear plants were decommissioned before replacements were in situ. Totally right. The clamour from Greeenpeace, Friends of the Earth, echoed by many green groups, almost drowned out other voices, which were easily dismissed as Climate Deniers. I was told that if I supported fracking I was a climate denier. Once was by a fellow vicar who thought Acetic and Citric Acids were pollutants used in fracking!!!!!  I could also add most Green groups and all political parties as the CEN Conservative Environmental Network are all opposed to nuclear and coal, especially the latter.

Kelly points out that decommissioning of plants  was done before replacements were in place. Thus with coal power stations gone, there was no generating capacity to make up for the shortfall from renewables, which could not produce in the absence of wind and sun. This is simply folly and the collapse of power generation or the problems of the turn of 2021-2022 was made inevitable. No one , or only a few, wanted to retain coal, but until cheapish and reliable energy comes on line the risk is too great, especially for the poor, who have to use a higher portion of their income on fuel and electricity.

On paper the replacement capacity of renewables seems good and comparable to fossil fuels. But there is a very big BUT. However big the capacity is, no electricity can be generated without wind and sun. When it is windy greens crow about the fact that 50% of electricity is being generated by renewables but silent the next day when the wind drops and little power is produced. Then gas kicks in and, what is worse, COAL.

Kelly also points out there is no way to store more than small amounts of energy on  a large scale, as without that any excess electricity produced simply goes to waste. Yet many simply believe without evidence that these are in place. He could have pointed out that wishful thinking will not produce energy and you cannot use technology which has not been invented or is not yet on line. None of this can be magicked into existence by ditching fossil fuels and nuclear. Taking a long view in the early 70s GranadaNW had a series on a house powered by renewables. It was great to watched and filled myself and others with hope, but that hope has not been fulfilled despite all the R & D.

And so his finale on fracking. Despite much hostility fracking has been successful in the USA, with relatively few problems. Most of these were caused by individual bad practice or “litigious individuals”. As in the UK opponents were often rather economical with the truth. The UK story of fracking is a sad one as greens of all kinds made a crusade against and were also economical with the truth. It foundered on minor tremors which almost certainly caused no damage, despite the likes of Geza Tarjani claiming that the 2021 “earthquake” (Mag 2.1) damaged his house and became one of the most tire**** protestors against fracking. He has recently been charged in connection with Sajid Jarvid’s home

Freinds of the Earth were censored by the Advertising Standards Authority for an inaccurate leaflet some years back.

It is concerning that leading green groups do this and that government continues to listen to them.

Kelly is totally clear that our present energy crisis is self-inflicted and the result of listening to green scare stories.

The result has to raise the cost of energy and everything else and also drive more people into fuel poverty.

When you get your extra high fuel bills, this will direct your thoughts on who is to blame.

Is Fracking Good or Bad? Even if it is from the USA!

For the moment there is no fracking in Britain, but, and it is a very big


most of the gas used in Britain today , whether for electricity generation, or cooking, or heating, is FRACKED gas imported from the USA. As it is imported here by ship, some gas is lost en route, thus contributing to greenhouse emissions.

The absurdity of electricity generation in Britain is that most is produced from imported fracked gas and when renewables go on strike (no wind or sun) the shortfall is made up by turning up the gas generators and switching on the COAL.

After most of last decade dominated by fracking, misinformation from green groups (my favourite are the pollutants in the fracking fluid – acetic acids and citric acids! If you don’t what hilarious about that, then you know nothing about fracking or fish and chips), and several minor tremors, which may have caused a couple of hairline cracks in plasterwork. However “quakes” from fracking are far, far smaller than those from hydrothermal energy.

The tremors are a concern and various geologists are studying them carefully, as in a recently published paper by geologists from Bristol and Oxford.

Rather than woffle on, here is a blog by a Christian fracking engineer from New Mexico considering the good and the bad  – and the negative hype.foeadvert

Is Fracking Good or Bad? Why Is it an emotionally charged issue for Americans? Fracking of oil and gas wells is a conundrum.

Source: Is Fracking Good or Bad?

Geology and the Christian Faith – interview with David Wilkinson

Five years ago I gave a paper at the first of the Christian Leadership in an Age of Science project conferences at St John’s College Durham. It was originally supposed to be on geology and Genesis etc, but then I was asked to do the controversial issue of fracking.


Rev William Buckland looking at Glacial striae in Snowdonia in October 1841. The Nantlle ridge in the background

During the conference I was interviewed by Prof David Wilkinson on me being a geologist and vicar. I deal  with my coming to faith, whether I found any conflict of geology and Christianity, my resolution of the two, and the value of geology. We ended up n fracking, when I said all the things I shouldn’t  – or should!

Very aptly I was interviewed in the Tristram Room in the college, named after the clerical naturalist Canon H B Tristram who was the first to use The Origin of species in a scientific paper – on the larks of the Holy Land.


I was interviewed looking at Tristram (and thinking he agreed with me!)

Here is the site of ECLAS with many interviews and other resources, mostly from those more high powered

And here is my interview

If you want more , here is a chapter I wrote for the Geological scoiety Special Publication 310 Geology and Religion

Genesis one for geologists

and from the same volume a study on the geologist, Adam Sedgwick battling with creationists


The Soapflake Scale of Clean and Dirty Energy

The Soapflake scale of energy for cleanliness.


In the usual binary and mutually exclusive discussions over energy, certain forms of energy are lauded as “clean” and others denigrated as “dirty”. The former are GOOD and the latter are BAD, and no one should challenge that. Fossil fuels are always dirty , hence dirty fracking is bad and renewables are always good,- even turbines planted on peat bogs, wrecking the bog system and emitting loads of Carbon into the atmosphere.

However this binary division overlooks many things. It never mentions all the carbon-spewing resulting from the concrete used in the bases for wind turbines, or in the construction of the blades. EVs are “clean” as they have no emissions at the point of use, but what about their construction? 

So looking at each in turn, not that this is an impressionistic view and not accurate in absolute detail.

10. Peat, lignite

One of the wonders in Germany has been the closing down of lethal nuclear power stations (so far no fatalities) and their replacement with lignite-fuelled power stations. Lignite, or brown coal, is a messy fuel and makes coal seem very clean. The cost has been high carbon emissions and the strip-mining for lignite and even the razing of whole villages. Complete folly. 


Lignite must win the prize for sheer dirtiness, whether for emissions or good old-fashioned pollution.

Peat and peat bogs are wonderful things. They trap more carbon than trees or meadows, yet they have been ripped up for fuel and horticulture. Fortunately many are being restored at present, but there is a long way to go. (make you sure you only buy peat-free compost and make your own.) Above all they do not make good sites for wind turbines.

9.  Coal

Ole King Cole is the baddy and just saying the word raises the heart rate of some. When it was first widely used in 1800 it was a saviour as it meant woodlands could be preserved and deforestation halted. Despite its pollution, it increased longevity, living standards and health for many. No wonder the geologist William Buckland saw coal as a blessing from God.  The cost was increasing air pollution, acid rain, ill health and CO2 – the last only realised in recent decades.

Coal, or rather coke, is still needed for steel-making. Hence the new mine in Cumbria, which isi better for emissions than importing steel.

No one will mourn its demise – provided there are alternative forms of energy.


Until the mid 19th century the main two forms of energy were wood and muscle, the latter provided by humans , horses and oxen. It would be good to bring back the first of the three for local travel, but at times it seems whips for wimps will be needed.

A major problem of the use of wood for fuel is deforestation, which hit a maximum in Britain in 1800 and is still increasing elsewhere. In Kigezi (SW Uganda) forests are shrinking at 2%  each year due to demand for fuel. A few miles away oil and gas production has started, which should be used locally to save the planet – at least in Kigezi.

Wood is only renewable when used in small quantities, but the use of wood pellets, often imported, in power stations like Drax, is far, far worse than coal. also, it can cause serious air pollution when burnt under non-ideal situations. For those in many parts of the world who cork with wood, the air pollution is terrible.


Dirty diesel was the preferred green fuel of two decades ago, but has been found wanting, with far too many particles emitted. Yet there has been little switch ing to gas – oh yes, the greens stopped that!

6. Oil , Imported Natural Gas, Hydro

Oil has been the fuel for transport for the last century and more. It’s downsides and convenience don’t need stating.

Why have I put Imported Natural Gas here? Quite simply when gas (fracked, of course) is imported some gas is lost in transport, thus increasing emissions and making it dirtier. Local fracked gas would reduce that impact.

Hydro seems to be the perfect renewable, but there is a cost. First it can causes earthquakes rather than tremors. Secondly it causes problems to the river systems to the detriment of wildlife.

5. Local Natural Gas,  Solar, Wind, Geothermal

This four-fold equivalence will give some a heart attack. After all, gas is dirty and the others clean.

Solar and wind are only clean in the final production of energy. The construction is very dirty. Vast quantities of cement are used in the foundation of turbines and many rare metals for solar panels. Both are unreliable and produce nothing on a cold windless night, when power demand is at its highest. 


Geothermal has many advantages but like fracking has associated earth tremors, which are overlooked by greens.

Natural Gas, – methane – is the cleanest of fossil fuels as it has the lowest amount of carbon. There are vast resources but it needs to be fracked, which is a no-no to some. Yet converting power stations from coal to gas has reduced emissions. It is now a hate-fuel by the Tory government, who need to realise that Roman oratory is no substitute for hard science. 

4. Biogas, Nuclear

A few years ago Ecotricity claimed to provide biogas in the mains. The ASA told them to correct their ads. Biogas can be a a green fuel is the biomass used would otherwise just rot. But there is a limit on how much gas could be produced. Some reckon no more than 10% of our needs. Using specially grown biomass takes away the green credentials.


Nuclear has long been a green bogeyman and has been effectively stifled for decades due to perceived risk. In fact it is safer than most forms of energy. The trouble is now there is much catchup needed whereas more nuclear plants should have been opened throughout the world. Again own goals by greens.

3. Hunter gatherer e.g bushmen

Nothing is as inspiring as the old Bushman style of living in the Kalahari, but it is dependent on a very low population density.

2. Hunter gatherer eg Patagonia

Some of the most evocative descriptions in Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle are of the the residents of Tierra del Fuego living in semi-nudity and frugality in a cold wet climate. I am wary of following their example.


  1.  Adam and Eve before they went scrumping

Maybe the only time of Net Zero was in the Garden of Eden, before the nudists went scrumping.

0. Dead

I sometimes wonder if this is the ultimate aim of some greenies, who seem to want the human race to go extinct. They even have a rebellion for it. 

 So ends my rather impressionistic analysis of clean and dirty fuels. I reject the Manichean dichotomy of clean and dirty. All are dirty to some degree. Carbon emissions are not the only test. Materials used in construction need to be considered and that immediately dishes the dirt on wind, solar and EVs.

Copper and other metals shortages

Just consider the problems of shifting to EVs. EVs require so much more in the way of rarer metals than fossil-fuel vehicles but most only consider the emissions at the point of use.

If by 2030 32% of vehicles are EVs that has an imme4nse demand on metals needed, with the attendant emissions of extraction. To get to 32% for building vehicles and extending the electric grid and additional 40,000 tons of Copper will be needed annually and that is over and above the 120,000tons used at present. Recycling will not make a big impact so it will have to be mined.

40,000tons of copper is a lot of metal, which would require a great increase of mining. If 2% copper ore is used that is 2.000,000 tons of ore, and if  0.25%  (more typical of a porphyry deposit) that is 16,000,000 tones ore. That is every year. Thus Britain would need access to a large mine overseas. Just imagine if it were 100% EV.

If you multiply this throughout every country throughout the world that would require copper production to go up by about 50%. It is difficult not see copper shortages.

No wonder some are looking to sea-bed mining.

 I’ve only mention copper, but there is also Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and an alphabet soup of rarer metals

So ends my rather impressionistic analysis of clean and dirty fuels. I reject the Manichean dichotomy of clean and dirty. All are dirty to some degree. Carbon emissions are not the only test. Materials used in construction need to be considered and that immediately dishes the dirt on wind, solar and EVs.

Just consider the problems of shifting to EVs. EVs require so much more in the way of rarer metals than fossil-fuel vehicles but most only consider the emissions at the point of use.

If by 2030 32% of vehicles are EVs that has an imme4nse demand on metals needed, with the attendant emissions of extraction. To get to 32% for building vehicles and extending the electric grid and additional 40,000 tons of Copper will be needed annually and that is over and above the 120,000tons used at present. Recycling will not make a big impact so it will have to be mined.

40,000tons of copper is a lot of metal, which would require a great increase of mining. If 2% copper ore is used that is 2.000,000 tons of ore, and if  0.25%  (more typical of a porphyry deposit) that is 16,000,000 tones ore. That is every year. Thus Britain would need access to a large mine overseas. Just imagine if it were 100% EV. (To be personal. When working for a mining company I assessed some old mine workings and the target for a viable mine was 2 million tons at 2% Copper. After drilling it was clear there was only 500,000tons of ore, so that was that. Most exploration geologists thought themselves lucky if one of the prospects produced a mine in the course of their career.)

If you multiply this throughout every country throughout the world that would require copper production to go up by about 50%. It is difficult not see copper shortages.

No wonder some are looking to sea-bed mining.

 I’ve only mention copper, but there is also Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and an alphabet soup of rarer metals

These two links indicate some of the problems;

or on a world perspective

This is only looking at problems associated with EVs but it needs to be applied to all renewable forms of energy as these require vast quantities of materials from concrete to metals. Add to that issues over tailings dams, limited water supplies, and political instability, the hurdles are all but insurmountable, if they are.

I am more than aware that this blog is no more than impressionistic and gives only the general order of the problems facing any attempt at going Net Zero by 2030 or even 2050. The first thing to do is to reject wishful thinking and a naive belief that there is clean and dirty energy. Every form of energy is filthy rather than just dirty.

The next is to assess what metals and minerals are needed to effect any policy and whether hopes for totally electric will be limited by the earth’s resources.

Perhaps the first thing need to “save the planet” is to realistically assess all the problems of even approaching Net Zero and to reject green virtue signalling and impossible hopes. 

What next?

Issues too big for individual and need to be considered from all angles including metals!

Also we don’t want navel gazing climate grief but first to look at oneself to see how our individual impacts can be reduced. 

 Looking at this book is better than climate grief


The plot against fracking

I’m not supposed to agree with Matt Ridley!! Or else I’m not green.

However having followed fracking in the UK all this decade I struggle to disagree with what Ridley has written here

I totally agree with what he says about GMOs and not the opposition to them by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Christian Aid and ER.

I waver a bit about the Russian connection but…………

Protesters at Cuadrilla’s Blackpool site (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The plot against fracking

How cheap energy was killed by Green lies and Russian propaganda

The first coffee house in Marseilles opened in 1671, prompting the city’s vintners to recruit a couple of professors at the University of Aix to blacken their new competitor’s reputation. They duly got one of their students to write a pamphlet claiming coffee was a vile foreign novelty made from a tree favoured by goats and camels. It burned the blood, dried the kidneys and attracted the lymph, inducing palsies and impotence. “From all of which we must necessarily conclude that coffee is hurtful to the greater part of the inhabitants of Marseilles.”

Thus does novelty run up against vested interests. Today similar pseudoscience is used to blacken the reputation of almost any new development. Usually, as was the case with coffee, the campaign fails. But these days the anti-innovation forces have deep pockets and few scruples and have won some big battles. We now know that the opposition to genetically modified crops in Europe has resulted in more pesticide use than would otherwise have been the case, yet that opposition was very profitable for the big green pressure groups.

They fanned the flames of opposition, coining terms such as “Frankenfood”, and nimbly hopped from one fear to the next as each myth was busted: biotechnology was going to poison people, damage ecosystems, cause allergies, impoverish small farmers, boost corporate profits, and so on. They turned Monsanto into a pantomime villain and forced it to contemplate a strategy (making plants that could not breed true so the plants could not spread in the wild) that activists then criticised as a “terminator technology” designed to prevent small farmers saving seed, thus forcing them to rely on Monsanto.


Eventually, the issue lost its ability to yield donations and media interest, so the green business blob moved on. As Mark Lynas, a prominent anti-GM campaigner, now ruefully admits: “We permanently stirred public hostility to GMO foods throughout pretty much the entire world, and — incredibly — held up the previously unstoppable march of a whole technology. There was only one problem with our stunningly successful worldwide campaign. It wasn’t true.”

Cameron’s government projected gas prices would either rise fast, medium or slow – In fact they fell

More than a decade later, environmentalists hit upon another money spinner: opposition to fracking. When the shale gas revolution first came along, some environmentalists welcomed it, and rightly so. It “creates an unprecedented opportunity to use gas as a bridge fuel to a twenty-first-century energy economy that relies on efficiency, renewable sources, and low-carbon fossil fuels such as natural gas,” wrote Senator Tim Wirth, a prominent environmentalist. And so it has proved: the country that adopted shale gas first and most — the United States — is the country that lowered its carbon dioxide emissions first and most, because gas displaced coal, a much higher-carbon fuel.

But then the vested interests got to work. Renewable energy promoters panicked at the thought of cheap and abundant gas. Their business model was predicated on the alleged certainty that prices would rise as fossil fuels ran out, making subsidised wind and solar power look comparatively cheap. David Cameron’s coalition government produced three projections about what might happen to gas prices: that they would rise fast, medium or slow. In fact they fell, a possibility the government had entirely ignored.

It is hard to recall now just how sure almost everybody was in 2008 that natural gas was running out. Its price had risen as gas fields in North America and the North Sea began to run dry. Peak gas was coming even sooner than peak oil or peak coal. Yet in the suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas, something was stirring. Engineer Nick Steinsberger, working for a company called Mitchell Energy, tried different ways to fracture shale rocks deep underground so that the gas would flow. Hydraulic fracturing had been invented the 1940s, generally using petroleum gels, but it did not work in shale, which contained an enormous amount of gas and oil. Nobody much minded you pumping gels down into rocks in those days. After all, the rocks themselves are — by definition — already soaked in toxic mixtures of oil and gas.

Steinsberger noticed water worked a bit better than gel. In 1998, he tried sending water down first, then some sand to prop open the cracks and — whoosh! — out came a lot of gas. And it kept on coming. “Slick-water fracking” had been invented, using far fewer chemicals than previous methods, allowing vast shale reserves around the world to be exploited.

Most experts said shale gas was a flash in the pan and would not much affect global supplies. They were wrong. By 2011 America’s declining gas output shot up and oil soon followed suit. The US has now overtaken Russia as the biggest gas producer in the world, and Saudi Arabia as the biggest oil producer. Cheap gas brought a stream of chemical companies rushing back from Europe and the Persian Gulf to manufacture in America. Gas import terminals were rebuilt as gas export terminals. The Permian basin in Texas alone now produces as much oil as the whole of the US did in 2008, and more than any Opec country except Iran and Saudi Arabia. This — not wind and solar which still provide only 2 per cent of world primary energy — is the big energy story of the past decade.

One country that should have taken sharp notice is Britain. As late as 2004 Britain was a gas exporter, but as North Sea production declined it rapidly became a big net importer, dependent on Norway, Qatar or Russia. As Britain was paying far more for its gas than America, that meant that our huge chemical industry was gradually moving out.

Russia Today television ran endless anti-fracking stories, including one that “frackers are the moral equivalent of paedophiles”

Fortunately, it then emerged that Britain has one of the richest and thickest seams of shale: the Bowland shale across Lancashire and Yorkshire contains many decades of supply. Fracking it would mean drilling small holes down about one mile, then cracking the rocks with millimetre-wide fractures and catching the gas as it flowed out over the next few decades. Experience in America showed this could be done without any risk of contaminating ground water, which is near the surface, or threatening buildings. The seismic tremors that have caused all the trouble are so slight they could not possibly do damage and were generally far smaller than those from mining, construction or transport. The well pads would be hundreds of times smaller than the concrete bases of wind farms producing comparable amounts of energy.

Still, friends of the earth, which is effectively a multinational environmental business, spotted a chance to make hay. Despite being told by the Advertising Standards Authority to withdraw misleading claims about shale gas, it kept up a relentless campaign of misinformation, demanding more delay and red tape from all-too-willing civil servants.


Poor Bosworth was shown up on the BBC by claiming sand was the carcinogen, hence the seaside meme , more here from the culprits of the complaint on FoE!

The industry, with Cuadrilla fated to play the part of Monsanto, agreed to ridiculously unrealistic limits on what kinds of tremors they were allowed after being promised by the government that the limits would be changed later — a promise since broken. Such limits would stop most other industries, even road haulage, in their tracks.

The Russians also lobbied behind the scenes against shale gas, worried about losing their grip on the world’s gas supplies. Unlike most conspiracy theories about Russian meddling in Western politics, this one is out there in plain sight. The head of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the Russians, as part of a sophisticated disinformation operation, “engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations — environmental organisations working against shale gas — to maintain Europe’s dependence on imported Russian gas”.

The Centre for European Studies found that the Russian government has invested $95 million in NGOs campaigning against shale gas. Russia Today television ran endless anti-fracking stories, including one that “frackers are the moral equivalent of paedophiles”. The US Director of National Intelligence stated that “RT runs anti-fracking programming … reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom’s profitability.” Pro-Russian politicians such as Lord Truscott (married to a Russian army colonel’s daughter) made speeches in parliament against fracking.

As night follows day, Tory politicians lost courage and slipped into neutrality then opposition

No scare story was too far-fetched to be taken up and amplified. Tap water would catch fire (no: though it’s a natural phenomenon in some places in America where gas naturally contaminates ground water). There would be significant gas leaks (no: there are more gas leaks from natural sources and pipelines). The water that comes out of the well is dangerously radioactive (no: it is not). Fracking uses a lot of water (a lot less than farming). And so on. The unelected quangocracy that runs these things on behalf of taxpayers, mainly in the form of the Environment Agency, appeared at times to be taking its instructions directly from Friends of the Earth. So, of course, did the BBC.

The endless delays imposed by regulators played into the hands of shale gas’s opponents, giving them time to organise more and more protests, which were themselves ways of getting on the news and hence getting more donations. Never mind that few locals in Lancashire wanted to join the protests: plenty of upper-middle class types could be bussed in from the south.

As night follows day, Tory politicians lost courage and slipped into neutrality then opposition, worrying about what posh greens might think, rather than working-class bill-payers and job-seekers. A golden opportunity was squandered for Britain to get hold of home-grown, secure, cheap and relatively clean energy. We don’t need fossil fuels, the politicians thought, we’re going for net zero in 2050! But read the small print, chaps: the only way to have zero-emission transport and heating, so says the Committee on Climate Change, is to use lots of hydrogen. And how do they say most of the hydrogen is to be made? From gas.

After genetically modified crops and fracking, what innovation will be next to get stopped in its tracks by vested interests? Vaping, I reckon. It’s an open secret that the pharmaceutical industry pours money into anti-vaping campaigns because the technology is a threat to their lucrative nicotine patches and gums, which they have been getting doctors to prescribe to smokers trying to quit for years. Unlike e-cigarettes, which are the most effective aids to quitting yet found, Big Pharma’s products don’t work very well. So they are worried. Next time you hear somebody arguing that e-cigarettes (like coffee) burn the blood, dry the kidneys and attract the lymph, ask who benefits.