The government has given its blessing to the UK’s first fracking operation in Lancashire, despite massive local opposition and mounting evidence of a warming planet.
Most of the claims made for shale gas have been proven wrong. It won’t create significant new jobs or make energy cheaper, since it will be sold at market prices, and it won’t help to reduce carbon emissions.
A study by Cardiff University shows that the UK would need 1,000 wells on 5,000 fracking pads – each larger than a football pitch – to replace 50 per cent of imported gas. Millions of gallons of water will be needed in an area currently subject to a hosepipe ban. For some, Lancashire may be far away but sites much nearer to home, around the South Downs, are being planned to drill for shale oil.
The industrialisation of our English countryside moves a step nearer and I say ‘English’ because the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments have banned it, as have several European countries.
The energy minister, Clair Perry, likes to hold up Trump’s America as a model to follow where they have pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, restored coal mines, weakened the Environment Protection Agency and seized Native American land.
Worryingly, there are signs that sites in England could go ahead without the approval of local planning authorities as a process known as Permitted Development Rights, used for small house extensions, is applied to exploratory fracking sites. With fracking and Heathrow’s third runway approved in the same week, Mr Gove’s assurances of a greener future are fading fast.