Bernard Ingham: These zealots who fight fracking would send us back to pre-industrial squalour

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WE have it on the authority of an Anglican woman vicar that the “F” word is not blasphemous but old English vulgarity. The new English vulgarity has also commandeered the letter “f” as in fracking and, inevitably given the exhibitionists involved, Frack Off.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no desire whatsoever to see our glorious countryside ravaged. What is more, I think my record proves it. But life’s a bargain. And the problem with anti-fracking fanatics is that, like other zealots, they are blinkered totalitarians.

For example, the animal rights lot probably hate man far more than they love furry creatures. Those against a badger cull have no thought for cattle dying of TB, probably because healthy cows earn man a living.

The great unwashed who turned the environs of St Paul’s Cathedral into a nauseous tip in a futile demonstration against the City of London had no compunction about rendering it an almost medieval threat to public health.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was pre-occupied with getting rid of atomic weapons – as if you could disinvent technology – rather than maintaining the peace they presumably wanted through a balance of mutally assured destruction that was obviously its best guarantee.

So we come to the modern environmentalist exhibiting his or her tender conscience wherever anything offends their sensibilities.

Fracking for shale gas is merely the latest example of their hypocrisy, utter stupidity and exaggeration.

First, their main charge against fracking is perhaps less the disturbance to the countryside than the higher C02 emissions that would result from burning this new source of gas. If so, then, to put it bluntly, they are exhibiting their hypocrisy for all to see.

Gas from somewhere is needed to generate electricity when the wind and solar farms beloved of environmentalists cease to produce power when the wind doesn’t blow (or blows too hard) and the sun sets. Otherwise, the lights will go out.

So far there is no evidence that “green” wind and solar power – or from wave, tidal, geothermal or biomass – have cut C02 emissions. Instead they are up 20 per cent if you take into account manufacturing capability priced out of the British market into less efficient economies from which we import goods.

So much for the average environmentalist’s tender 
loving concern for the poor, 
for the unemployed, for the 
ability of the nation to compete in the world and for a healthy economy capable of looking 
after the health and welfare of 
its citizens.

It seems they want us all to live in their yurts, tepees and wigwams in a sort of glorious, save-the-planet pre-industrial squalour – regardless of our manifest objections. If that is 
not totalitarianism, I don’t know what is.

As for stupidity, their entire approach to energy is to plump for everything that does not work and exclude everything that does – coal, gas, oil and especially nuclear power which emits next to no CO2.

Worse still, their long campaign has captured our limited politicians. The result is that, 
short of an early shale gas bonanza, we can no longer rely on any government of whatever political complexion to provide secure supplies of energy at affordable cost.

Current energy policy guarantees eventual insecurity, with regular warnings of blackouts, and soaring costs that build in rising fuel poverty and an ever less competitive economy.

After all, onshore and offshore wind developers coin twice and three times the average price of wholesale electricity in subsidies paid by us consumers.

And to think these so-called “green” organisations have milked the EU of £86m in grants since 1997. We British taxpayers have contributed £8.6m of this. We are truly generous to a fault.

As for exaggeration about fracking, the US Environmental Protection Agency has found no evidence that it pollutes ground water or causes methane to come out of taps.

I am told that fracking fluid is 99 per cent water and sand and that every one of the 13 chemicals it employs in the bowels of the earth has a domestic use. British academic studies also show that seismic activity from fracking is so small that only geoscientists could detect it. So much for earthquakes or even tremors.

That is not what you hear from environmentalists – or that you can hide a fracking operation in what is left of our countryside far more easily than its industrialisation with wind and solar power plant.

After all this, I shall perfectly understand if you resort to some old English vulgarity. These pseudo-environmentalists are sent to try us.