Big Debate: Fracking

Should fracking for shale gas be allowed in the UK?

Should fracking for shale gas be allowed in the UK? - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

This week Stefan Mrozinski, Conservative mayoral candidate for Newham, and Chris Smith, Green Party mayoral candidate for Tower Hamlets, debate the pros and cons of fracking for shale gas.

Stefan Mrozinski, Conservative mayoral candidate for Newham

Stefan Mrozinski, Conservative mayoral candidate for Newham - Credit: Archant

Stefan Mrozinski, Conservative mayoral candidate for Newham.

Chris Smith, Green Party mayoral candidate for Tower Hamlets

Chris Smith, Green Party mayoral candidate for Tower Hamlets - Credit: Archant

Fuel poverty is a major concern in Newham. Many residents are worried about leaving the heating on, even when it’s below freezing outside.

I, like thousands of others in the borough, cannot understand how it costs hundreds of pounds each quarter just to heat my small flat for a few hours each day.

But what if that could change? People living in countries like the US, which has recently begun to undertake large-scale fracking (the process of exploring and extracting shale gas), have already seen large drops in their energy bills.

Parts of Britain are sitting on huge reserves of shale gas that could also be translated into a huge reduction in the cost of living. Moreover, shale gas is cleaner than many other sources of energy and could create an industry producing tens of thousands of jobs while reducing our reliance on imported energy.

Fracking must, however, have the support of the local communities that it directly affects. That is why the Prime Minister has announced that local councils will receive all the business rates from shale gas projects.

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Opponents of fracking claim it is too dangerous. But drilling for oil and transporting it is also dangerous and no one claims we should stop using our cars. We simply introduced tough laws to regulate the extraction and transportation of oil.

The same will be done for fracking. In any event, there are no proposals to carry out any fracking in Newham.

Secondly, those against fracking claim it is environmentally damaging. But shale gas is actually far cleaner than other fossil fuels.

Besides, renewables require huge taxpayer subsidies and are, by themselves, incapable of providing enough energy at an acceptable cost to consumers.

It will take a number of years for the benefits of carefully regulated fracking to come to fruition, but for Newham shale gas offers the prospect of a much needed reduction in energy bills.

I for one look forward to that.

Chris Smith, Green Party mayoral candidate for Tower Hamlets.

Generally fracking has many potential environmental impacts, including issues such as high amounts of water usage, potential leaking of the chemicals used into the underground water tables and the release of methane, which is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

What’s more, any area that is being fracked will be disrupted by large numbers of lorries transporting water and other chemicals to the sites.

For it to have a major impact on gas supply tens of thousands of wells will be needed.

It’s important to remember that when attempting to release gas through fracking in a specific area of countryside, multiple well sites are needed. Do we really want large swathes of our countryside scarred by fracking drill wells?

Furthermore the consumer will see no benefit in terms of prices as they have done in the U.S which is a totally different type of market to the UK.

Ultimately it is the energy companies themselves who are most likely to benefit by increasing their profits at the expense of the consumer.

Considering how many alternative forms of energy which are now available to use it is shocking that we continue to use such backward solutions to 21st Century problems.

What’s more the Government’s move is nothing less than a bribe to councils to accept the highly unpopular and environmentally damaging process.

This is taxpayers’ money to bribe councils into easy acceptance of a highly polluting industry and it’s a major subsidy to the industry.

The Government is committed to pushing fracking through with a £100,000 bribe from industry. Cameron’s new major finance bribe will adversely affect those Councils that stand up for their local communities against the interests of the shale gas industry especially in the north where fracking is being targeted”

We are likely to see huge local opposition to fracking - and the Government knows it. Bribing councils is their last ditch attempt to get people to accept this damaging industry.