back to article UK Govt refuses to ban shale gas 'fracking'

The UK government has welcomed new developments in "unconventional" gas resources. It is largely a let's-wait-and-see response, which acknowledges the economic, environmental and security benefits of shale gas. Calls from environmentalist campaigners to freeze exploration in the UK have been given the bum's rush. France, which …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. annodomini2

      <Error> Title not found

      Especially talking ones!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Hypothetical and unproven

    funny how those words can swing both ways.

    Mind you, harm from alcohol and tobacco is neither hypothetical nor unproven, and they're not only legal but taxed.

    So how bad would something have to be to get banned ?

    1. Tom 13

      Alar? Saccharin?

      Answer: not very. Just need an enviro-weenie to lie about it and make an emotional film. Like say, Gasland.

  3. BD 1
    Thumb Up

    Go for it

    This is a sensible response from the government. Like all extractive industries, shale gas has its environmental problems but these are not substantially different from that associated with conventional gas-well drilling or coal mining. The idea that fraccing will lead to widespread pollution of our water supplies and flaming gas coming from our water taps is nonsense.

    Of more environment concern is the disposal of the water and associated chemicals that are injected into the well as part of the fraccing process. Yes this is an issue, but with proper planning, not an insurmountable one.

    Our modern society needs energy and shale gas is worth exploring for. Whether it will turn out to be the bonaza that the proponents are selling remains to be seen.

  4. Dan Beshear

    Difference in layers

    Frakking happens more than 1000 feet below ground. Wells used for drinking water are rarely more than 250 feet deep. Flammable well water existed before frakking due to pockets of natural gas close to the surface. This should be a non-issue, but has been blown WAY out of proportion by sheer ignorance.

  5. Mark Dowling


    The gas industry took a swing at this guy over issues such as the prior gas findings. He made a pretty strong swing back here:

    I'm not opposed to shale exploration per se but it does seem like he has answers for many of the criticisms.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Shock news. British govt does not behave like headless chicken.

    I expect "fracking", much like *any* extraction process, can cause considerable environmental damage *if* carried out in unregulated and unmonitored manner.

    IE Like America.

    Thumbs up for HMG not panicking and recognising this could do quite a lot of good to the UK.

    For starters it might limit gas companies with their "The bulk price of gas has gone up (after it fell x% beforehand) so we'll have to put up consumers prices *again*"

    The £64Bn will the UK use *this* bonus as a breathing space to build a *real* sustainable energy policy or p**s it away the way North Sea oil revenues went?

  7. Notas Badoff

    When the inconvenient pops up....

    The best example of the campaigner's desire for "black and white" causes, and the distortion on that old ínconvenience 'truth' that results, was one trial in the states.

    People wailing in court about their poisoned water. Pictures of flaming taps. Experts testifying about aquifer contamination via drilling. Testimony about leaky cement casings. Frack fluids freakouts. Oh my. All seemed certain it was the evil energy company's fault.

    Then pops up something even the sued company hadn't known about. A video that a driller had made, showing flames shooting from some of his equipment. The water well driller, that is. That family's water well. Over two years before any gas drilling took place. (The driller had been so amazed at the quantity of gas he'd videoed it to show friends)

    Oh, gee, then somebody called attention, again, to the previously cited evidence that there were a couple beds of coal deeper than the aquifer, and much shallower than the stratum of the gas drilling. Just mebbe the methane is coming from there...?

    Oh dear, Fifi's the cat has been run over outside. Must be that new highway they put in. Sue the rebar manufacturer!

  8. Annihilator Silver badge


    Although I've no firm opinion one way or the other, to state:

    "the citizens reported that they could not light their water on fire before the drilling. And after the drilling they could light their water on fire"

    does seem a bit disingenuous. How many people try to light their water on fire on a regular basis and are able to show a causal link? Post hoc ergo propter hoc for a start. It's hardly a surprise, an increasing amount of journalists tends to highlight the facts that support their theory and ignore the rest (or give it a small caveat near the end).

    1. Rob Crawford

      I'm a little confused

      How many times did they try to light their tap water before drilling started.

      And indeed why did they try and light their tap water, what did they actually think they where doing.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Pretty much any gas drilling...

    does increase the risk of methane intrusion into the groundwater supplies. Fracking fluids are also poisonous, and beyond the groundwater intrusion problem there have been numerous instances of surface contamination in the U.S., simply because pipes and containers holding the fluids can leak or people handle them poorly.

    So I would say yes to fracking, but let's document pre-drilling environmental conditions at the drilling sites and have regulations and procedures in place in case there is contamination of some kind.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I remember the days

    When the UK had vast energy reseves under the North Sea, that were going to make it independent for the foreseeable future. Then some idiot sold it.

    1. Scott 19


      Totally agree this will simply be sold off to some foriegn investor to make large sums of money for them and a little bit of tax for the goverment, in no way shape or form will this benefit me or you.

      It doesn't matter where the gas comes from it's who owns it that will see the UK keep topping the charts for energy prices.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Thank-you Conservatives

      The UK government encouraged companies to drill our side North Sea as quickly as they could with the result that the UK sector is the fastest oil producing region ever brought on stream. It is also now the one declining the fastest.

      But for a while it was nice, all that money covered up the collapse of our manufacturing industry and paid for millions to be put on to long term benefits.

      The Norwegians sensibly decided to manage their oil production through Statoil with the government pension pot taking the proceeds. The result being that not only does Norway still have lots of oil under the sea, but it is sitting on half a TRILLION dollars of assets that will keep on generating income when the wells run dry.

  11. Tomato42

    And there goes another one...

    ...the way ""An Inconvenient Truth" did.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Fracking great

    Bring it on.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    rules and regulation

    Here is my major beef with shale. The companies that exploit it.

    We have seen them come to farmers in Quebec, with absolutly no oversight, then start drilling. No environment impact check, no permit, nothing.

    Then when things go wrong because they didn't cut corners on the paperwork, they also did on the drilling, you end up (like we did in Quebec) with once fertile farm land rendered useless by all the crap they dumped in it.

    Do it right, with proper safety, checks and SUPERVISION, fine. But with how things are right now, no thanks

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      Interesting about being in Quebec.

      I had not realised the regulations were as lax as in the US.

      However in the US Shrub got an "Exemption" clause to both the Clean Air and Clean Water acts.

      BTW this story applies to the UK, where environmental pollution regulations are somewhat stricter.

  14. Jan 0 Silver badge

    Let's get this right.

    Why is it necessary to abbreviate the word 'fracturing" to "fracking"?

    Are those two letters too difficult so say? Is the time and space recouped very precious?

    1. BD 1

      Faccing/fracking just exists

      "Why is it necessary to abbreviate the word 'fracturing" to "fracking"?"

      Because that is the accepted terminlogy thats been used in oil and gas drilling for decades, spelt fracking or fraccing. There is no right or wrong, the word just exists and saying that it is gramatically incorrect will not make it go away..

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Let's get this right.

      Er, because it is a portmanteau word based on "fracturing" and "cracking" and not an abbreviation at all.

      The question of why the heck either fracturing or cracking could not have been used, rather than coining this neologism, may be the right one to ask.

    3. Anonymous Coward


      ...fracking sounds like fun, fracturing doesn't.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      'fracturing' on its own doesn't mean anything. 'Fracking' is industry specific terminology and is a blanket synonym for the whole process of horizontal drilling, blasting, poisoning mega tons of water then pumping that into the ground, pumping it back up and dumping the waste into the environment.

  15. crosspatch

    Not surprising

    This decision by the UK is consistent with recent US Congressional testimony by the head of the Environmental Protection Agency that there has not been a single documented case of hydraulic fracking having contaminated water supplies.

    The cases of methane contaminated water widely publicized are where the water has been contaminated with natural methane seepage long before any fracking was going on. Heck, in Burbank, California, the sidewalk is known to sometimes catch fire from natural gas seeps.

  16. Fibbles

    Frack this...

    ... I'm off for a glass of fire-water.

  17. Mickey Finn

    If the UK is going against the EC politburo….

    …It won't be long before they impose a ban on what is estimated to be a massive resource, particularly for the "big coal" areas like the UK, Poland, Germany… I mean… It wouldn't be fair would it?

    Far better for us to tilt at f**king windmills!

    My how we laughed around the campfire when the lights went out.

  18. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    We've already got our snouts in the trough waiting for the feed so you proles can sod off.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "in case there is contamination of some kind."

    Not just contamination. Are there other possible consequences too?

    Work at the UK's only exploratory fracking site, on the Fylde peninsula in Lancashire, was suspended earlier this year after two small earthquakes in the area (which is normally noted for its lack of seismic activity).

    Andrew doesn't seem to have noticed this. Or doesn't want readers to notice this? So here's a link or three.

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Being a bit ingenious there ...

      >> Work at the UK's only exploratory fracking site, on the Fylde peninsula in Lancashire, was suspended earlier this year after two small earthquakes in the area (which is normally noted for its lack of seismic activity).

      So you happen to live in that area ? I guess not, because if you did then you'd know that we've had a number of minor earthquakes over the last few decades.

      Besides, if fracking does create minor tremors, then I'd say that's a good thing - it's a sign that there were built up stresses that have now been relieved. A larger quake is now a little less likely.

  20. TeeCee Gold badge

    Cars (someone always has to do the car thing).

    It strikes me that if this stuff does prove to be as abundant as some seem to make out, the next logical move would to be to start running cars on the resulting cheap and plentiful CNG. In many places it would be possible to produce a roadside Gas station using only a deep hole and a compressor, eliminating much of that pesky business of moving tankers of fuel around the countryside.

    When most cars actually do run on Gas rather than Petrol, it'll leave the Yanks a rather long way up a linguistic blind alley.....

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Mine already do run on Gas

      and every time I fill up (for peanuts) queuing behind a poor schmuck who has to hand over a hundred quid or so. Just know that I'm laughing my socks off inside.

      I've used LPG for years on several previous vehicles and on my new car.

      My coats the one with the cash in the pocket....

  21. Rentaguru

    If I recall

    They suspended fracking at Presse Hall on the Flyde coast because of there were some surprisingly coincidental earthquakes in Blackpool.

    1. BD 1

      And coal mining

      And if you look earthquake maps of the UK, you will find that coal mines are associated with induced earthquakes too. Lucky that Thatcher closed them all.

      A few references

    2. Graham Bartlett


      Speaking as someone from that area, an earthquake could only be an improvement.

  22. NomNomNom


    Unspoken are the additional greenhouse gas emissions from tapping into this new fossil carbon source of energy. As if oil and coal weren't enough lets go after shale gas too.

    1. david 63


      ...the science is settled. Right?

  23. Dave Bell

    Tread carefully?

    I don't have a problem with there not being a ban in the UK, but we are talking about processes intended to release vast quantities of flammable gas.

    Let's be careful out there.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Well If We Do Ban

    Then stock up on candles and firewood as this country has one serious energy crisis looming.

    To quote an Indian physicist, the late Dr Homi Bhabha: "No energy is more expensive than no energy"

    Get your coat and wrap up warm as only lottery winners will be able to afford gas and leccy prices soon.

  25. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Does anyone hope you can use lasers to do this.

    Then the request "Get me some big fraccing lasers" will seem quite reasonable.

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