Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Fracking, Facts and Fear

"Springtime on Woldgate"
This is one of my paintings of the glorious Yorkshire Wolds. The whole area has an air of unspoiled beauty with its golden fields, leafy lanes, picturesque villages and rolling wolds that give the distinctive name. Who in their right mind would want to despoil this unique place? You might be surprised (or not!) to find out that our Whitehall based government have given licenses for this whole area to become available for 'high volume hydraulic fracturing'...or 'fracking' to you and me. Now like most people I admit to having a vague disquiet about fracking but to be honest I didn't have enough information to make an informed decision.Not until last night that is. I attended a public meeting held here in Kilham where I now live, to discuss concerns about exactly what effects fracking could have on our lovely village and its surroundings. It was both shocking and terrifying. But first things first - what exactly is fracking? Fracking is a drilling process designed to release trapped gas from shale rock. Firstly, a well is drilled vertically to about 7 - 10,000 ft, then drilled horizontally for up to two miles. A mixture of water, chemicals and sand is then pumped down the well at high pressure. This creates cracks in the shale, allowing the trapped gas to travel up the well to the surface along with large quantities of contaminated waster water. How much waste water do you reckon? The industries own estimates are that an average well may require up to 5 million gallons.5,000,000 gallons of clean water over its lifetime and that's an industry estimate so the reality is that a lot more water is probably involved. All of that water is permanently contaminated. But don't panic - they dig a new well and use the old one to dump the waste water into and there's always the sea of course! By the way under the Infrastructure Act 2015 UK law now permits any substance to be injected into the ground and left there so fracking waste underground would not be illegal. The same Act includes a change in the law so that fracking under your home does not now require your permission. Are you getting a bit worried now? Of course it is pure coincidence that there are not many plans for fracking down south and pardon me for pointing it out, but perhaps this is why 'Northern Powerhouse' has become such a buzz word with the government. And how many wells do you think? No one knows for sure but Andy Aplin, Professor of Unconventional Petroleum, Durham University, gave us a clue in 2014 when he stated "To recover 15%of shale gas in Lancashire would need 33,000 on 5,500 pads." A 'pad' is  an area where multiple wells are sunk. No matter how bad your maths may be you can clearly see that it adds up to a lot of contaminated water. But there are other problems and dangers of fracking:
Health Problems - fracking is banned in many other parts of the world because of health and environmental concerns
Possible contamination of water supplies particularly boreholes and during flooding.
Thousands of HGV movements on rural roads and through villages for every frack.
Increased levels of  dangerous air pollution near fracking sites.
Increased risk of earthquakes.
Noise pollution, particularly at night as drilling and fracking can take place 24/7
A serious threat to local wildlife and the natural environment.
Abandoned wells can leak for many years to come, and are often unmonitored.
Fracking will require thousands of wells on hundreds of sites,resulting in the industrialisation of the countryside
I could go on and on but the point is that these are facts and we have every reason to be fearful. And don't think this me being 'NIMBY' just because Kilham and the Wolds are threatened. No - the licensed area covers the whole of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Derbyshire. Here's a couple of websites where you can check out the facts for yourself:
frackfreenorthyorkshire.com, frackfreeeastyorkshire.com, and isfrackingsafe.com

Don't wait until it is too late, or assume it's someone else's problem. Join a growing community of local people who are helping to protect the land we love...including the glorious Yorkshire Wolds!



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