A RECURRING theme of this newspaper’s week-long investigation into fracking is the mistrust between environmentalists and the energy industry which believes the extraction of shale gas is in the national economic interest.
It’s not helped by the secrecy surrounding a desire by energy giant Ineos to obtain geological data from under the North York Moors to, presumably, assess its future suitability for fracking. Yet its approach, and comments by operations director Tom Pickering who appears to assume that the firm “can frack underneath without impact on the surface above”, are concerning for two reasons.
First, the North York Moors is designated as a National Park because of its priceless natural environment and a desire to ensure that such precious landscapes – the Yorkshire Dales and Peak District are also protected – are cherished for future generations and spared from any inappropriate developments.
Second, firms like Ineos should be working with local communities to win their support, trust and confidence rather than keeping residents in the dark and exacerbating, still further, the misgivings that have become such a feature of Third Energy’s fracking plans for nearby Kirby Misperton.
Even though Business Secretary Greg Clark has put the Third Energy plan on hold until he has received satisfactory assurances about the operator’s finances, perhaps the Middlesbrough-born politician, one of the fairer Cabinet ministers, needs to put better protocols in place that require fracking firms, and their like, to engage with local communities from the outset.