Friday, 13 December 2013

Let's get fracking

There have been encouraging developments since this article was posted following the response from the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to a suggestion “ .. Let's get fracking here in the UK .. ” sent to politicians and copied to other interested parties, including members of Repeal the Act ( and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

 The Global Warming Policy Foundation has just released a bulletin  which begins QUOTE: 

Britain Wins Shale Battle As EU Leaves Fracking Out Of Stricter Environment Laws 

Go-Ahead For Fracking After Brussels Vows No New Regulations

British Prime Minister David Cameron has called on European leaders to press ahead with fracking after seeing off the threat of new EU restrictions on the industry. He urged European companies to start fracking in earnest after EU officials confirmed that there would be no new legislation. Speaking in Brussels yesterday, Mr Cameron said that the Commission’s decision marked a “good result. We’ve got to follow through on that and now make sure that this industry can really go ahead,” he said. --Michael Savage, The Times, 21 December 2013


In an E-mail of 12th Dec. a DECC correspondence officer had commented QUOTE: ..

Shale gas is still at a very early stage here in the UK. However, we need to move forward to enable the necessary exploration and prove the potential, while ensuring that the activity is safe and the environment is properly protected. 

The Government believe it is important that we do not hold back unnecessarily – we need to build momentum. That is why the Government have set up the Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil, who are taking forward work on a new onshore licensing round, and the Chancellor has announced fiscal measures to incentivise shale gas development in the UK. The new tax allowance being consulted upon by Treasury would reduce the tax on a portion of a company’s production income from 62% to 30% at current rates. This proposal recognises the high upfront costs associated with shale gas projects and means that greater support would be offered to the industry in its early stages when costs are likely to be higher.

The UK has a long history of onshore oil and gas exploitation, and has developed a robust regulatory system to ensure that all such operations will be carried out to high standards of safety and environmental protection. All onshore oil and gas projects, including shale gas, are subject to scrutiny through the planning system, which addresses impacts on local residents such as traffic movements, noise, working hours, etc. They will subsequently be scrutinised by the relevant environmental agency [in England, the Environment Agency, in Wales Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in Scotland (SEPA)] and by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Consent from DECC is also required before drilling or production activities can commence. We have also put in place appropriate control measures to address seismic risks.

The Government and its regulatory agencies are studying the experience already gained with shale gas exploration and production in the US, so that we can learn from their experience and improve our system where possible. 

The Government understand concerns about potential risks to water supplies. The Environment Agency will scrutinise all proposals to ensure that water supplies are properly protected. They have powers to impose conditions to ensure proper protection or to prohibit activities which they consider to pose unacceptable risks. Their permission is also required for any water abstraction, and this will only be given where the proposed quantities are sustainable. 

There have also been concerns about non-disclosure of chemicals used in fracturing fluids. The agencies have powers to require full disclosure of chemicals used in fracking in England and Wales. All chemicals an operator proposes to use will be assessed, and will be not permitted if they are considered to be harmful in the relevant circumstances.

Last year, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society conducted an independent review of the scientific and engineering evidence on the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing for shale gas. They concluded that the risks can be managed effectively in the UK, provided that operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation.

In the UK, only one shale gas well has so far been fracked. Fracking operations at this well in 2011 resulted in two small seismic tremors. Further fracking for shale gas was halted pending a detailed investigation, but DECC announced last December that, subject to new control measures to mitigate the risk of seismic tremors, fracking for shale gas would again be permitted, subject to case by case scrutiny and all other regulatory controls as outlined above.

The Government think it would be irresponsible not to explore the economic opportunities which shale gas can potentially offer the UK, and they are keen to build momentum. The Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil (OUGO) will join up responsibilities across Government, provide a single point of contact for investors, and ensure a simplified and streamlined regulatory process.

The Government strongly believe that communities hosting shale gas developments should see concrete benefits as a result. They welcome the industries commitment to early engagement. The details of the community benefit arrangements for any particular project will be designed in conjunction with local residents. The community benefits package will include:

At exploration stage, £100,000 in community benefits will be provided per well-site where fracking takes place
1% of revenues at production stage will be paid out to communities.
Operators will publish evidence each year of how these commitments have been met.
This Charter and offer to communities will be regularly reviewed as the industry develops, and operators consult further with communities.

If you have access to the internet and are interested in further information about unconventional oil and gas drilling, you might be interested to see some Q and A material available on the Government website here:

APPENDIX A: Relevant E-mail Exchanges

From: Correspondence (DECC)
To: peter ridley ..
Sent: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 16:35
Subject: Re: Graham Stringer MP speaking at our recent Repeal the Act! meeting (TO2013/23052)


I hope that this is helpful.
Yours sincerely,
John McCulley ... 
Correspondence Officer, DECC Correspondence Team
Follow us

From: Peter Ridley .. 
Sent: 24 November 2013 19:27
To: Philip Foster...; Stella Creasy...; Neil Clegg...; Peter Gill...; Peter Lilley...; Graham Stringer...; press@ukip...; Euan Mearns...; A Smyth...; James Clappison...; Private Office@no10...; Oliver Letwin...; J Barron...; ...DECC...; Kenneth Clarke...; Marl Lazarowicz...; David Davies...; William Hague...; Ed Miliband...; Owen Paterson...; Vince Cable...; Trew David ...; Helen Dyer...; ... John Beddington...; ... Ed Tilley...
Cc: Fay Kelly Tuncay...; ... Piers Corbyn...; Benny Peiser...; Carrie Spurgeon...; John Spurgeon...; ... Angela Kelly...
Subject: Re: Graham Stringer MP speaking at our recent Repeal the Act! meeting

Hi Philip,

Thanks for that update.

Fay's E-mail included a link to the transcript of The House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs Inquiry on THE ECONOMIC IMPACT ON UK ENERGY POLICY OF SHALE GAS AND OIL of 19th Nov (

Evidence from Professor Dieter Helm included " .. the impact of US shale gas on world gas prices is, and is likely to remain, very limited .. that does not mean that there are not significant effects .. shale gas has displaced a significant amount of coal in the US, which is now in export markets. Coal prices are and have been falling quite sharply for some time .. US coal exports have added to that. The immediate price impact is to drive down the price .. coal burn has expanded very substantially in Europe and since the coal burn has gone up a lot in Britain .. ".

Nigel Lawson put important points to Professor Helm, including " .. On the one hand you say that there are the rent-seeking groups and so on with a vested interest in preventing it. On the other hand, you have the drilling companies that might well say that there is nothing to worry about, but people will say, “Well, they would, wouldn’t they”.
Lord Shipley was asking whether there was not a case for the Environment Agency or the Government in some shape or form setting out objectively the state of play. What do think the position is? .. ".

Maybe involving the Environmental Agency would be detrimental, if a past employee of that august body is to be believed. Henry (who runs the blog "Inside the Environment Agency .. " says that he is "Exposing the internal waste of tax payer and licence payer funds, abuse of working/flexi time and annual leave by staff members, mismanagement by senior and line managers, and the victimisation and harassment of licence holders and operators" (

I hope that our politicians will heed the advice given by Professor Helm, which included " .. The reality .. is about economics. It is not about whether rocks contain shale gas; it is about whether they are accessible at reasonable cost. The answer to that .. you have to find out, and that means that you have to drill some holes. My suspicion is that we do not really know until we have done quite a lot of drilling how much is there .. get on and drill some holes and find out what is there. Then you can decide what to do about it, or not .. ".

Looking into Graham Stringer's contribution to the CACC debate took me to the web-site of the CACC-supporting organisation, the "Campaign against Climate Change" .. which includes George Monbiot, Michael Meacher, Alexis Rowell, Caroline Lucas, etc. (

Let's get fracking here in the UK - and VOTE UKIP for a sensible energy policy and freedom from the shackles of EU membership!


From: Philip Foster ...
Sent: Sat, 23 Nov 2013 22:58
Subject: Graham Stringer MP speaking at our recent Repeal the Act!
meeting. (fwd)
---------- Begin forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2013 20:40:45 +0000
From: Fay Kelly Tuncay ... 
To: Philip Foster ..., Ian Barton ..., Piers Corbyn..., Benny Peiser GWPF ..., Carrie Spurgeon ..., John Spurgeon ..., Angela Kelly ..., Terry Jackson ...
Subject: Graham Stringer MP speaking at our recent Repeal the Act!

Dear All,Graham Stringer MP speaking at our recent Repeal the Act!

Stringer: "Things won't change anytime soon... there is a lot of educating to do", I think we need to keep it simple. Perhaps our next meeting should be "How to Get rid of the Green crap" - perhaps,  we should invite a comedian instead of a professor of climate science!

This transcript also tells us that our energy policy is a very unfunny joke.

----------- End forwarded message -------------

Rev Philip Foster MA ...  

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