August 26: A void of knowledge on fracking

From: Ian Wingfield, Hope Valley.

MOST apposite in concerns highlighted in the fracking discourse is your correspondent Paul Morgan (The Yorkhsire Post, August 22) pointing out that the Government – and no other organisation – has the democratic mandate to pursue this. What a pity the many people in North Yorkshire who helped vote them in a few months ago did not wake up to the Conservatives’ clearly expressed intentions

It is a given that whatever opposition is mounted – albeit there will be the occasional “victory” – fracking will proceed sooner or later, and pressures are best directed towards controlling developments.

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Unfortunately there are three things which, as far as communities and the environment are concerned, militate against this. These are (1) the promoters are private companies naturally and solely motivated by profit, (2) the Government holds all the cards and has an inherent reluctance to hinder the fracking process in any way, and (3) there is little or no body of knowledge and experience of fracking in the UK.

Thus, when works proceed and notwithstanding imposed planning conditions, companies will proceed safe in the knowledge they will largely do things their way, paying lip service to community liaison and little concern for any adverse impactions. The lack of knowledge and experience means that from local planning level through to the top of Government there is a complete void in which nobody is able to prescribe with any certainty how work could, and indeed should, proceed so as to ensure absolute security

There should accordingly be a pause in the proceedings – the Government has form here – to allow knowledge and experience to be accrued of the entire extraction process. This could be achieved by contracts with say two potential frackers, whereby work proceeds in a highly controlled manner under overall control of a specially constituted independent body. This latter would of necessity have many strands but ultimately would be well placed to lay down and then monitor the many facets of the extraction process. There would be a cost associated with this and as work gradually comes about it should be tightly defined and controlled – recognising there can be no short cuts

Not entirely dissimilar works have been undertaken in the UK over many decades and whatever the problem – noise, pollution, visual intrusion, traffic etc – there is always a solution (with a price tag) which will at least largely offer amelioration – always assuming there is the authority to decree and define the conditions and parameters.

Implicit in these proceedings should be consideration of permitted duration of the extraction process and ultimate restoration of sites, with mandatory provision of bonds to ensure there is no evasion of responsibilities and liability.

Were I a Tory minister charged with establishing a body such as described, I would seek to appoint a well-established consultancy to this role, safe in the knowledge they will be appropriately deferential and compliant. For this very reason the body should on the contrary be ad-hoc, independent with all disciplines represented, a powerful local authority input and democratic representation. It is my view that only through an approach on these lines can there be any certainty that the many serious concerns of all those likely to be affected will be taken account of.

Security of a vital link

From: John Swift, Gisbourne Road, Bradley, Huddersfield.

IF the Channel Tunnel were to be flooded after a bomb explosion, who would pay for the remedial works and how long would it take?

The EU would obviously be not as concerned as the UK because they would still have about 25 countries for their exports whereas we would only have one country (Ireland) for non-global exports.

What steps are the EU taking to prevent explosives being freely brought across the borders?

Rail habitats are in danger

From: GB Mallison, Seaton, Hull.

I HEARTILY agree with Roger Ratcliffe when he says we should cherish wildlife habitats on old railway lines (The Yorkshire Post, August 19). Unfortunately, cherishing is not enough.

It would have been more useful if he had reported those lines which are steadily losing their biodiverse character.

For example the long- delayed plan for the Hull­ Hornsea Railtrail admits that habitat along most of the trail is declining due to lack of appropriate management.

In fact much of the the once predominating species-­rich grassland and associated fauna has disappeared under a canopy of hawthorn scrub. How many more of Roger’s rich habitats are suffering the same fate?

Call for sanity on mobiles

From: David Treacher, Hull.

I OFTEN travel on a the bus and I get fed up of other passengers with mobile telephones. Often everyone else on the bus hears the full conversation.

Many of the journeys are local and last only a few moments.

Why can’t the bus companies stop this?