The UK prime minister had offered councils the full 100 per cent of the business rate of the fracking companies, rather than just the usual 50 per cent. (Full story in the Somerset Guardian).
But Bath said a very firm No, having taken scientific advice and found out that fracking would have a catastrophic effect on the waters there, and consequently, tourism. The Roman spa temple draws many people from all over the world to visit Bath, and they stay at the spa hotels to bathe in the healing waters.
The truth is, the effect of fracking will be no less catastrophic elsewhere, to the water tables of Britain, and so the hope is that other councils will follow suit.
To encourage your council, you could write to them. As we saw last year over the threat of World War 3 from a strike on Syria, writing to our elected representatives has quite an effect. It’s all very well to ‘raise awareness’ on Twitter and Facebook by talking about it there…. but often, we’re ‘preaching to the converted’. However, a direct letter to those with responsibility to act seems to have a much more direct impact.
If you’re not so good at writing letters, you might want to adapt mine which I wrote to Somerset County Council today. As well as giving examples of the dangers derived from global sources, which you can use in your letter, I’ve also highlighted local topics of ecological and economical concern – such as the importance of the purity of waters to tourism, and the proven danger of earthquakes from fracking and comparing that to Fukushima… etc. You will have your own local concerns… so you can just substitute them, or cut out those parts altogether. So here goes:
Dear Somerset County Council
I’m writing to ask you not to take David Cameron’s offered financial incentive to councils, to allow in energy companies to explore and mine shale gas, otherwise known as fracking.
I understand that, last September, Mendip Council passed a Lib-Dem motion, but with cross-party support, which resolved to raise the concerns about fracking with the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Given that concern, probably no explanation is needed from me about why there is a growing consensus that fracking would be ultimately ecologically destructive to the land and waters not just in this part of Somerset, but to the whole of the UK generally. But in case you are considering taking Cameron’s bribe at SCC, here is why I think it would be an act of ecological and economic suicide for this region to allow in the frackers.
I think we need to learn from history; much greater areas of land than this one, like South Queensland in Australia, have been rendered toxic and barren by fracking. There are no regulatory processes in place in the UK to ensure that the same wouldn’t happen here. Because the energy companies are hand-in-glove with the British government, the British public are not being told about the longer-term effects from fracking on the air, water and soil that resulted in not just Australia, but also places like Colorado, Northern Texas, California and Mexico. There is also no evidence in those places that fracking brought the benefits of lower energy bills.
Added to which, I’m sure you’re aware that the waters play a major part in the ecology of this region, and that their purity is one of the attractions to tourists. France has banned shale gas exploration because of the high risk of earthquake to their nuclear power stations. Well, what about Hinckley? Do we in Somerset want to be responsible for another Fukushima? We already have experience in this country of the risk of earthquake with fracking; so far, the energy companies have drilled two shale gas wells, and each one caused a seismic event.
Or perhaps you’re not aware of just how huge an operation shale gas fracking is? It’s not a small cottage industry that can be just tucked away in the lea of a hill. Each drilling site will consist of 120 pads, with each pad the size of a football pitch. There is a further vertical section with eight horizontal sections going off them.
The aim is to create a network of gas fields, which will unleash into the geology millions of gallons of water with five per cent unknown chemical additives. The chemical additives are unknown because the energy companies will not release that information. One energy company, Caudrilla, has said that the additives are “just normal, everyday household chemicals”. The Advertising Standards Agency has criticised Cuadrilla for being “economical with the truth” on that subject. The truth is that the energy companies have yet to find a way to stop their concrete pipes eroding and crumbling away, and many of them do eventually, allowing chemicals to filter into the water-table and rendering the water undrinkable and the ground uninhabitable for untold generations to come.
You’ll be aware, I’m sure, that Bath and North East Somerset Council has rejected Cameron’s bribe, as that region has similar ecological and economical concerns as our own. For Somerset County Council to achieve its mission to “….provide excellent services that are accessible, responsive and sustainable to ensure Somerset is a healthy and vibrant place to live, work and visit,” at the very least, in my view, it should not let these fracking energy companies in.
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