Yesterday, Mondagreenpeacey 28 July, ministers opened the bidding process for companies seeking licences to explore the UK for onshore oil and gas by the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Companies now have the details they need to apply for licences which will enable them to start exploring for shale gas across the UK. Whilst this is only the first step and further drilling requires planning permission, permits from the Environment Agency and sign-off from the Health and Safety Executive, this action highlights the lack of commitment to exploring renewable, clean energy in the UK.

There has also been guidance released for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage Sites, National Parks and the Broads, which state that if exploration in these areas is rejected by local authorities, the Communities minister will automatically review and can overturn the decision.

This is not the way towards a stable energy market, with lower prices for consumers. There is a multitude of risks to fracking: methane contamination of drinking water; accidental spillages of fracking fluid contaminating waterways; minor earthquakes and landslides; problems disposing of contaminated fracking fluid; and noise, disruption and local air pollution from lorries and rig operations.

This is why we need to put pressure on the Government to champion clean, renewable energy sources and not those that impact our environment, health and the global climate.

Follow the link to sign Greenpeace’s petition:

https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/fracking-david-cameron-most-shocking-speech?source=em&subsource=20140728fraem02&utm_source=gpeace&utm_medium=em&utm_campaign=20140728fraem02

fracking-natural-gas-imageThe Government was urged last week, by The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, to accelerate development of the UK’s shale gas and oil resources.The call has been made by the Committee to ensure that the UK can reap the potential benefits that come from extracting the fossil fuels in seams across the country.

Left: the process of fracking

However, as previously reported by BHESCo, this method ofextreme fossil fuel extraction is unsustainable, feeding our dependence on fossil fuels rather than investing in renewable alternatives such as solar, wind and biomass.

The Committee states that the UK is ‘exceptionally fortunate’ to have these resources available, ignoring reports from the Tyndall Centre of the dangers of fracking. It is believed that fracking and extracting resources from seams will reduce our vulnerability, predicted from fossil fuel price increases due in the future.  The cost of this vulnerability reduction on our land and water is too great.

Fortunately, not all Members of the Lords are as enthusiastic; Lord Howell has urged caution in the development of commercial fracking, believing it to be seriously flawed and costly. It’s not all good news though as he still wants ‘economically viable shale gas and oil production go ahead as soon a possible’. Howell draws his conclusions from looking at the process in the USA which has taken many years to mature employing their already existing vast fracking infrastructure.  The UK, however, does not have such infrastructure meaning that it will be timely and costly to develop.

More important lessons can be taken from the US, where it has been reported that methane emissions are much higher than originally planned and health impacts derived from fracking practices are being validated.  At BHESCo we believe that this is the real problem. Fracking releases a concentrated harmful greenhouse gas, methane, which is 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, contaminates aquifers and land with poisonous fluids and uses diesel to operate the drilling machinery, emitting harmful particulates and nitrous oxides. All in all, fracking should not be endorsed, urged forward or championed in anyway.

At BHESCo we are encouraging everybody to think about the alternatives to using fossil fuels and join us in a clean energy revolution! Stop depending on fossil fuels and explore the alternatives; could you mount solar panels on your roof to supply your electricity, or install a biomass boiler to heat your home or business? Could you buy an electric or hybrid car?  This will put the power back in your hands, not those of the Big Six energy providers, and reduce your impact on the environment.

Join forces with your community to develop a renewable energy project together with us at BHESCo, we could help your local school, community group or even a collection of businesses and homes together set up a community energy project such as this wind farm in Watchfield, which generates enough electricity for 2,500 homes.

Sign up to receive the monthly BHESCo newsletter to keep up to date with news and events in relation to community energy, energy efficiency and the work we do. You can also express your interest and sign up to BHESCo, so when we develop our community projects you will be the first to know about them.

To find out more about these services, our projects and the work of BHESCo please contact us for more information and join the clean, community energy revolution.


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