Fracking – Green Question Time 2015

On 10th April we hosted a Green Question Time, attended by Steven Jackson (Conservative) and Angela Smith (Labour) and chaired by Paul Bridges.
Here is the question about fracking:

What is your position on fracking?

Steven Jackson for webI am staggered by the potential quantities of oil and gas and the potential for jobs and investment. But we need more information – what works in the US and Canada may not work in the UK.

Fracking should be decided locally. All fracking operations would need environmental permits based on full environmental impact assessments. Monitoring of each site for a full 12 month period prior to approval should be required, to assess for earth tremors and pollution of water aquifers.

Angela Smith for webI am sceptical about the figures for value and job creation – no one knows how much shale oil and gas there is and it is easy to overestimate the potential. Fracking is faltering in the US due to falling prices of coal and oil and the industry could collapse.

A robust and rigorous regulatory framework for environmental protection is in place, thanks to a House of Commons vote which defeated a Conservative move to a laxer system of regulation. The first requirement is a baseline assessment. Labour will complete the safeguards so that drinking water would be protected and there would be no fracking in National Parks.

However, there may be a place for fracking within the constraints of keeping below a 2oC temperature rise and ensuring energy security. It could be used to replace coal, before carbon capture and storage is fully introduced, as shale gas is less polluting than coal. 70% of gas will be imported by 2025 and we could use our own fracked gas instead. We would only do fracking if it meant we could still keep within the 2oC climate change target.

Audience Comments

The evidence from Oklahoma suggest earthquakes are caused by fracking

Fracking is a big user of water and the South East of England is frequently short of water



Energy – Green Question Time 2015

On 10th April we hosted a Green Question Time, attended by Steven Jackson (Conservative) and Angela Smith (Labour) and chaired by Paul Bridges.

Here is the question about energy (see also the Fracking and Community Energy questions):

Experts say that 4/5th of all known oil reserves need to remain in the ground, otherwise the ‘safe’ limit of a 2oC rise in temperature will be exceeded. How can we contemplate extracting the oil reserves reported to be under Gatwick Airport?

wind turbines at sunset, millhouse green

Angela Smith for webGoing over a 2oC temperature rise is a serious risk. Labour has pledged to de-carbonise electricity by 2030. There will be a big role for renewables; solar and wind. Carbon capture and storage can also be used, and using this we can clean up our fossil fuel supply. There is also a role for nuclear.

We need a sensible, pragmatic approach. Oil isn’t only used for energy, it is also important for chemicals such as plastics and transport. Labour would encourage the development of electric vehicles through the Green Investment Bank.

I opposed the Severn Barrage because of the impact on wildlife; we need look carefully at the effects on biodiversity of such schemes. The Swansea Bay tidal lagoon has less impact.

Steven Jackson for webDecarbonisation is important, but the Conservatives would ensure the costs were borne by energy companies rather than tax payers and energy bill payers.

Ideally oil, coal and fracked oil and gas should be kept in the ground. However, we have to consider energy security as the UK is a net importer of energy. We might need to utilise our fossil fuel reserves if energy supply becomes unreliable from other countries.

Wind farms have a role but on-shore is very inefficient and does not work enough of the time. Solar power is important – the UK is already in the top ten percent of generators of solar electricity in the world. We should encourage solar panels on schools and council buildings.

Nuclear power has a role, which is why the Conservatives have commissioned the first nuclear power station for 20 years. Tidal barrage and off shore wind also have a role in making the UK energy secure. We need an energy strategy

Audience Comments

Why are we building more nuclear stations when the waste issue remains unresolved? Solar should be included in all new buildings We need to cut down on energy use New homes should be sold on the basis of energy running costs as well as capital Renewables are not efficient