The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)

Scots MEP calls for ‘reality check’ on fracking issue

The debate over fracking has divided communitie­s in England and already forced one firm to reconsider its plans. But, writing for the P&J, MEP Struan Stevenson warns failure to embrace shale gas could lead to UK blackouts


A Euro MP has claimed that the UK faces blackouts unless the controvers­ial exploratio­n of shale gas is embraced, and has accused the green energy lobby of “churning out endless lies” about fracking.

It used to be trendy to join protests against new motorway extensions. Socalled environmen­talists climbed trees and set up camps to block bulldozers.

Remember “Swampy” and the tree-huggers? Now, the latest focus for the green protesters and their celebrity backers is shale gas. Anti-fracking groups are mobilising across the UK, feverishly shouting that shale gas extraction will pollute our watercours­es, cause massive earthquake­s and disfigure the landscape.

Already protesters have managed to force the fracking company Cuadrilla into temporaril­y suspending operations at its Balcombe site, in West Sussex, as groups there gear up for what they’re calling “mass civil disobedien­ce”.

We need a reality check. Ofgem, the energy regulator, has warned that the closure of UK coal-fired power stations to meet EU 2020 CO2emissio­ns targets is going to leave us perilously short of electricit­y within the next 18 months. Right now, we have a 14% surplus generating capacity. But by 2015, that will have fallen to only 2%. Britain will be on a knifeedge, teetering on the brink of blackouts.

Instead of properly dealing with this looming problem, policymake­rs’ continuing obsession with renewable energy has seen more than 5,000 giant, industrial wind turbines installed from one end of the country to the other at a cost of £7billion. Sadly, due to their unreliabil­ity and the fact they don’t work when there is no wind and must be switched off when the wind is too high, they often produce only a trickle of the power we need.

Fearful that the successful exploitati­on of our massive shale gas reserves would render the entire wind industry obsolete, the green lobby is now in a blind panic, churning out endless lies about fracking and its alleged consequenc­es.

Fracking involves pumping tens of thousands of litres of water mixed with sand, soap and citric acid, into deep wells under high pressure. The mixture causes rock formations to fracture and release stored gases. The Americans have drilled tens of thousands of wells and conducted more than two million fracking operations without a single recorded i ncident of groundwate­r contaminat­ion or explosions.

Boreholes for shale gas extraction are drilled down to 2,000m – more than 6,500ft – or more undergroun­d, thousands of metres below the aquifer. The risk of water contaminat­ion is negligible. With an estimated 200trillio­n cubic feet of shale gas deposits discovered in Lancashire alone – enough to power Britain for 65 years – we could be looking at the biggest energy revolution since North Sea Oil.

Shale gas emits about half the CO2 that burning coal produces, which is whytheUSha­smanagedto reduce its CO2emissio­ns by 450million tonnes in the past five years, while EU greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar.

Carbon emissions in the US per capita are now below 1963 levels and meanwhile gas is at almost giveaway prices, kick-starting the US economy, boosting jobs and prosperity.

In Scotland, Australian company, Dart Energy, has been granted two licences

 ??  ?? Struan Stevenson reckons fracking is the answer
Struan Stevenson reckons fracking is the answer

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