North West Region

Should fracking be carried out in the UK?

Should fracking be carried out in the UK?


The Case In Favour – Noel Matthews, Cumbria County Chairman, UKIP



Hydraulic fracturing, the process of extracting gas from shale rock by using pressurized liquids to fracture it and thus release gas and petroleum into a well, is a welcome development for UK businesses and domestic consumers because it potentially offers lower energy prices, increased energy security, and reduced dependence on imported gas, with a consequent saving on our balance of payments


The shale gas revolution in the United States has transformed US manufacturing and has resulted in their gas prices dropping to a fraction of those in Europe. We now have a report from the British Geological Survey indicating that shale gas resources in the UK are much larger than previously thought.  There is likely to be sufficient accessible gas for decades, perhaps centuries, of current consumption.


The Bowland Shale formation right here in the North West is also said to be three times thicker than the vast Marcellus field in the USA, suggesting not only larger volumes of gas, but more efficient extraction possibilities. Gas on this scale could well have a transformative effect on the British economy, and make us much less dependant on imports.  It will hopefully mean jobs, growth, and prosperity.


The prize, of total or partial energy independence, local industry and jobs, reduced imports, and lower energy costs, is so vast, we cannot afford to ignore it.  Energy availability and cost is one of the greatest economic problems we (and our children and grandchildren) face.  It would be an enormous dereliction of duty not to pursue every practical opportunity for indigenous energy.


There will be doubters. Alarmists from the green movement, Gazprom and others are already at work on this. We will be told about how fracking causes earthquakes which naturally brings images of falling buildings to mind. Fracking indeed causes seismic activity (which is not classified as earthquakes but as micro-tremors) but we are talking about tremors equivalent to the rumble of a truck passing your house.


We will be told that fracking is dangerous to residents and hazardous to health. In the US, perhaps the most litigious society on earth, had their been any major problems along these lines then there would have been a glut of class actions which would have brought investment to a halt. Nothing like that has happened. One criticism of US fracking companies is the secrecy about the composition of the liquid they use to pump into the well. Here in the UK that information will be publicly available as a condition of being awarded a license.


Ultimately there is no power source which can be entirely free of problems but the solution is to manage the technology better rather than to abandon it. A great metaphor on this is the following “The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones” It ended when we developed better technologies.  Hydraulic fracturing is an example of that and the next chapter in the success story of fossil fuels.


  1. Stephen Flanigan /

    BBC NW has done/ is doing an interesting series on Fracking. Unfortunately for those who follow the Ukip agenda they interviewed and showed Andy Pemberton at work on his farm. Andy is articulate, intelligent and raises some very interesting issues, those akin to general issues that Ukip raises over Wind Turbines.
    I have not been able to address those concerns directly as I do not have access to the points that Andy raises. But here is where I wonder at politicians and their lackeys. Here is again a bright, intelligent individual with pertinent objections on a rational and coherent basis. Why are you not providing answers to Andy’s fears instead of hoping they just go away?
    Ignoring a debate is not winning it.
    As a twenty odd year instructor, one of the first lessons I learned was never to bullshit. If a pupil asked a question to which the tutor did not know the answer, there is but one reply. A very good question, and I shall get back to you in the morning with an answer.
    Instead people pontificate until their questioner settles in their own mind that the teacher is full of **** and dose not know what he/she is talking about.
    Sound familiar?

  2. Nick Ford /

    What about those in the North West who have the mineral rights under their land. If Fracking under their land surely they have a right to
    a) a say in the drilling
    b) a right to royalties
    C to be informed if the fracking will be under their land.

  3. Graham Pound /

    Fracking may well produce large quantities of gas, but the enviromental consequences of obtaining and burning this gas are far more serious than the economic consequences of leaving it in the ground. Man-made global warming is a scientific reality and we really are close to the tipping point where, if we do not act to radically reduce our carbon emissions, we will permanently and dangerously damage our enviroment. The biggest consequences will be rising sea levels, changing climates, increased desertification, forced migrations resulting from these and ever-reduced ‘food security’.

    There is a far better energy source, one also capable of meeting our needs for centuries to come, if not millenia to come, that is clean and would leave us 100% energy independent and with none of the enviromental impact of frackng – and that is nuclear power. We need to be designing and building the next generation of nuclear power stations, and the infrastructure to supply fuel and dispose of waste.

    To pursue fracking in preference to nuclear power is irresponsible and in every way disadvantageous to us. We have to stop viewing the planet as an unlimited resource for us to dig up, burn and waste. It isn’t.

    • I totally agree that we should be going ahead with nuclear energy, but I also believe that’ve should be forging ahead with fracking NOW.
      Just as there might be some down side to fracking, there are for certain sone downsides with nuclear energy.
      However, neither oftese have the downsides that wind farms and turbines have:
      1) Loss of power in the absence of wind (artificial wind has not yet been invented)
      2) widespread desecration of countryside and country scenery
      3) noise pollution for people within reach of be low frequency sound emitted
      4) injustice of bespoiling the countryside view fow many people while channelling the financial rewards to one owner only per windmill with no redistribution of compensation to those whose enjoyment of countryside was vandalised.
      I think I could go on …..

  4. With any new and untested technology, the desirable way to progress it to err on the side of caution, not to rush headlong into it and pay the price later. Fracking has shown some alarming impacts on the environment and people living nearby. There is the issue of toxic chemicals pumped into the borehole, the extraction and storage of those toxic chemicals, overflowing tailing ponds causing pollution incidents, pollution of ground water and wells, water that will set on fire as it comes out of the tap because of the methane that fracking has released into it, the venting and fugitive emissions of methane to the atmosphere that will exacerbate climate change, the leakage of a natural by-product of fracking, hydrogen sulphide which is highly toxic to humans and animals and can cause sudden death, fracking produces condensates that contain benzene, toluene, xylenes and ethyl-benzene, byproducts from gas flaring include benzene, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, including naphthalene), acetaldehyde, acrolein, propylene, toluene, xylenes, ethyl benzene and hexane. Not to mention the earthquakes. In the US they have been reporting 3.6 magnitude ‘tremors’ and in Ohio a magnitude 4 ‘tremor that caused the state to temporarily ban fracking while more research was done. That is hardly like having a truck pass your house.

    And to say that people have not tried to sue in America is just plain lies. They have not been successful in most cases because the fracking companies avoid carrying out benchmark testing of local water courses and benchmarking local environmental conditions on purpose, so that there is no way of proving that the fracking is to blame. Other than the fact that before people lived in the same spot, and drank the water, and now the water sets on fire as it comes out of the taps.

    Fracking is dangerous, untested and un proven, and the rush for fracked gas is greed, pure and simple. There are plenty of clean energy solutions, that developers will get to eventually, when they run out of gas and oil, and they will be charging us for the privilege of using solar or wind energy. Cuadrilla has said that there will be no reduction in energy prices, so to say that energy prices will come down is also a lie.

    I might have been tempted to join UKIP, but the more I read here the more evident it becomes that this party is run by uneducated, grasping, ner’-do-wells, who will trot out any line they think equally uneducated voters will buy. Which is such a shame because there was an opportunity for real political change, and for a moment I thought UKIP may well be it. But no. If this is the caliber of your members and candidates, then you will not be getting my vote or my money.

    • I do not think for one moment that you considered joining or voting for UKIP.
      When I began reading your comment I initially thought it was a responsible knowledgeable person adding and contributing to knowledge and comment on an important subject.
      However, long before the end of your first paragraph I realised this was not the case.
      Instead I think your comment a snide sniping stab from someone who hates UKIP.
      As a UKIP supporter and member I wish to take this opportunity to express my hatred if lies and dishonesty, and which hatred is everything to do with my being a UKIP voter.
      At least you did not try to assert that fracking will make earthquakes worse!

  5. Geoff Siddall /

    If they say man-made global warming is a scientific reality and we are close to the tipping point where, if we do not act to radically reduce our carbon emissions, we will permanently and dangerously damage our environment.

    So why are the British people burdened with high green taxes to save the planet when we share the planet with a few more countries, a few very large countries, who are increasing carbon emissions on a massive scale?

    The UK or indeed Europe cannot radically reduce carbon emissions for the planet as a whole because our total carbon emissions is minimal in comparison to the rest of the world.

    I understand that the planet has experienced global warming a few times over the last few million years when man was not around. What’s that all about?

    • A very good question!

      First, we have the problem that climatology, just like sociology, is not a science. Rather it is a pseudo science – an area of study in which observations and theory cannot be subjected to the rigour that science demands. The problem is that for both these pseudo sciences the basic precepts are incomplete. Furthermore we do not know how incomplete they are. The computer modelling of the climate is based on these precepts, and whereas it is difficult enough predicting the weather accurately in any detail over the next fortnight, climate change requires the running of these program’s to model decades and even centuries of weather and climate development, with an ever widening potential discrepancy in geometric proportion to the period which the program is simulating.

      At the time I left school in 1970, after completing geology to ‘A’ level, I was putting together in my head a model of the history of the earth using the knowledge of geology that I had gained and which was showing me with remarkable lack of doubt that the earth’s climate IS ALWAYS CHANGING! I recall looking up at the sky in awe of this Eureka moment for me, and wondering which way it was going at that point in time: warmer or cooler. I was only 18 years old and I was trying to recall whether the weather had become warmer or colder in my short time on this earth. This was not much use, the time scale was too short, so I therefore resorted to the very field (of science?) that had shown me climate change, that field of study being geology. It took little deduction to realise that the Ice age, which had occurred in very recent geological history, and which ice Age was and is still receding, indicated that the climate was and still is getting warmer.

      Now, these changes are natural and occur as a result of natural changes in many factors from solar activity to the phasing of the earth’s varying distance from the sun set against the inclinations of the earth’s axis relative to the sun. Geology shows us time and again that the climate has changed dramatically in the past at varying rates of change. The earth’s magnetosphere has only just begun to be explored and is far from being understood in any detail, especially in respect to any possible long term effects on climate.

      Proving that human activity has influenced the climate change that is taking place naturally relies on many long tenuous lines of inquiry that reach well beyond human knowledge as it stands today, and which almost certainly extends into areas of science that have hardly begun to be understood and only recently have been detected. The disciplines involved range from chemistry, through environmental chemistry, to astronomy and into astrophysics. Among scientists in the area of chemistry alone there is discord, in particular on question of which gases are truly greenhouse gases, if any, and to what extent and degree so called greenhouse gases are causal or merely indicators of change already taking place.

      My personal belief can be no more than a careful, hopefully intelligent, appraisal and evaluation of the lobby that claims that we humans are without doubt the cause of a significantly accelerated global warming.
      My conclusion is that they are liars.

      On the claim that we humans are likely to be the cause of effective increased rate of global warming my reply has got to be that, not only do we not have knowledge enough to be conclusive, but we cannot be anywhere near certain that we are having any effect on the climate at all.

      Over eagerness to seize onto perceived findings appear to play a big role in the beliefs of the climate change lobby, especially in the formulation of opinions of some of the political animals involved. Add to this the government funded jobs that have been created in the wake of conclusions drawn during the Blair years in the meteorological and climate institutions, and the banding together of various parties with mutual interests in this, and we undoubtedly have one of the biggest scams of all time.

      Taxes, fake industries, and very large scale misdirection of tax payers’ and energy customer’s money has resulted. It requires but a short connection to be made between the purveyors of the false basis for this scam and the profits made by the companies manufacturing the eye sore wind turbines and windmills etc and the circle would be complete, cause one and effect one; cause two and effect two; cause three and effect three; and perhaps cause four and effect four, the last cause being the very same first cause and the last effect being the very same first effect, and then we really would understand the political Global Warming scam.

      One could even go on and imagine that the EU were involved (but it might be unfair to suggest – corruption, or conflicting interests?).

      I hope this helps in answering your question.

  6. Matt /

    Lets put all the environmental and ownership issues aside for a moment and focus purely on the cost/benefit.

    A recent independent study put a conservative estimate of 10-15 years before production equals demand if fracking was given the go ahead tomorrow. That is not, what I would call, a short-term investment. Not to mention the fact that once the ball is rolling and fracking businesses are established it will be tremendously difficult to get them to stop. It would be political suicide to shut down an industry providing jobs and wealth for the economy and would never happen so please let’s drop the argument that this is a short-term measure because it isn’t and never will be.

    And no business in their right mind would sign up to a short-term trade deal with such uncertainties. The costs, risks and lack of potential future profit make it a bad investment all round.

    Why not focus efforts instead of truly alternative fuel sources such as Thorium or pooling more funding into R&D to focus on perfecting hydrogen production and harnessing or even to look at better ways of energy storage.

    Fracking is sold as this “quick win” by most of the major parties without ever considering a true long term plan. Stop it, please.

  7. No Fracking…Absolutely not!! IT IS bad for the environment, bad for wild life, and the eco-system in general. And is bad, bad,bad for us, and future generations. The chemicals used in the fracking procedure contaminate air, water table, and soil and cause cancer.

    Greedy Corporations have NO!! concern for people, communities, or the environment. They just want to milk whatever they can, from wherever they can. Fracking procedures are short term cut and run operations, eighteen months to three years max. Leaving behind desolation, misery, and severe illness in it`s wake.
    Ask the people in America who`s lives have been blighted or ruined who live in those areas.

  8. william bygroves /

    It seems to be causing problems in the US, I would like it to be suspended in this country until we know the full affects of what it does to the environment.

    • i agree, its not worth it, make freinds not war, join up for cheap russian gas, make freinds with russia, forget making war with , syria,iran,russia, and the world

  9. Adam Evans /

    I agree to fracking Free gas but its untested technology and it goes out to tendor in the E.U companies and it should not go out to the E.U no back up insurance. It should be done by Uk companies (british) and the testing should be done in house. With todays technology testing of chemicals are clearer than 10years ago, data sheets can be requested by anyone (public) from manufactures chemical suppliers.

    I think the testing should be done where there is no risk to the under water springs, Greater manchester has a high risk enviroment impact due to our water table, there’s a massive under water spring for buxton water. Barton moss test drill site is next to a large water table PEAT fields, and we all ready got massive tunnel mines from the COAL Industrials below ground up to 57miles this could be a major risk of sink holes and cave in’s from the chemical expanding to release the free shale gas.

    Thank you for reading


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