Fracking decision hypocrisy

6th October 2016 | Commercial Energy

The Conservative Government have given “all-out” backing to fracking, with ministers steamrolling over local opposition. It is climate-polluting and unproven in the UK. On the other hand, onshore windfarms which have proved to be low-cost and low-carbon are undermined by the Government, with local opposition given power to block applications. Some observers have spotted hypocrisy here.
Sajid Javid, Communities Secretary, has overturned Lancashire Council’s rejection of Cuadrilla’s plan to drill four fracking wells in the county, allowing the project to proceed. While this is an important victory for the frackers, many more wells will have to be drilled, and there will be opposition at each turn to their applications.
The Government has promised to compensate local people in fracking areas, but there is nothing similar for wind turbines. The Government’s public opinion poll shows that almost 80% of people agree that renewable energy developments should benefit their local communities directly: 81% are in support of renewables, 4% against. But for fracking 19% are in favour and 31% are against.
So, is it because fracking looks so attractive in the USA that the Government has decided to plough ahead in the UK? Ministers initially argued that fracking in the UK would cut energy bills, but there aren’t many people who agree with this. The US is large and sparsely populated with limited regulation: Europe is the opposite and the cost of producing shale gas in Europe could be more than double that of the US.
According to analysts E&Y, “A shale gas boom in Europe could, in practice, weaken energy security in Europe through over-reliance on a single energy source.” It looks like a smart mix of renewables, efficiency, storage and interconnectors, as backed by the government’s own National Infrastructure Commission, the National Grid and industry group Energy UK.
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