Is fracking really the future? Various politicians seem very keen on it indeed, as you might expect given that it’s a natural resource that can be exploited within our own shores. Eliminating the need to import energy from abroad carries with it not only potential economic benefits but also a lot of weight as far as international relationships are concerned. After all, if you’re dependent on another nation to keep on the lights then the future is out of your hands. This could lead to some difficult situations.
These rather more selfish motivations aside, what else does fracking have going for it. In the United States it has taken off in a big way and is providing a big source of shale gas but would a ‘dash for gas’ in Britain change things in a similar way? Should it really be given priority over the search for more innovative renewable energy sources? (Gas is, after all, still a fossil fuel not matter how you manage to extract it.)
One concern has been the issue of earthquakes. In 2011 there were some tremors cause in the North West of England in the Blackpool area which were widely associated with drilling as part f the fracking process. There have also been issues with earthquakes in parts of the world where fracking is already popular such as the USA and Canada.
Another common worry is the exact nature of the fluids used in fracking (which are injected into the ground to force out gas). It is known they contain various chemicals, but the exact effect they have on the lands ecology over time remains to be seen. Then there is the ‘produced water’ that rises back up from the ground. This water needs to be cleaned and can contain radioactive material.
If we are unable to afford to effectively clean this water, then huge amounts will be taken out of the cycle which would have easy to imagine and very severe repercussions. For other people the biggest problem is the industrialisation of the countryside that this dash for gas would entail. It’s easy to see why so many people are concerned.