Lancashire County Council is set to decide whether to permit fracking tests on several sites on the Fylde coast. If Cuadrilla are successful in their bid and are able to carry out their tests in Lancashire, they may be able to begin a new application for commercial fracking in the UK.
Fracking has been in the news frequently in the last couple of years, but what exactly is it and why could it be disastrous for the environment? Otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing, fracking is:
the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.
Why is it controversial?
– Fracking requires a huge amount of water that must be transported to the drilling companies’ remote sites.
– Fracking can cause earthquakes. Several minor tremors in Blackpool in 2011 have been linked to fracking tests.
– Potentially harmful and carcinogenic chemicals could escape around the fracking sites.
– Shale gas is not a renewable or environmentally safe form of energy provision.
The Centre for Biological Diversity have published a more extensive list of some of the observed effects of fracking on wildlife and the environment, based on studies conducted to observe the impact of fracking in 6 US states, where fracking has revolutionized the energy industry.
Fracking has yet to catch on fully in the UK, as generally people don’t want it; the majority of MEPs voted for a moratorium on fracking in a symbolic vote that could see a future ban. The public outcry against fracking is a largely based on the lack of knowledge regarding the environmental impact of shale gas wells, and this report about a study demonstrated that there has been very little investigation into the effects, so there is very little data to draw on when considering the impact. The implication being that if there is no data to condemn fracking, it can be deemed safe. However, the 24/7 traffic, the partitioning of habitats, the leakage of chemicals into the water system, and many other factors, are quite obviously going to have an effect, and it’s probably a bad one.