Will fracking be an energy bonanza or nightmare for North?

From: John Elm, Northallerton, North Yorkshire.

IT seems our calculating government has decided to buy off opposition to oil shale fracking by offering 30 pieces of silver to the local councils. Are there no depths to which this Government will not sink in order to keep its business cronies happy, even if there is a possibility its actions may destroy the health and well being of its, albeit, lesser citizens living in the North?

Tory peer Lord Howell did rather “let the cat out of the bag” with his comments (hastily retracted by Cameron and Co) that “there obviously are, in beautiful rural areas, worries about not just the drilling and the fracking which I think are exaggerated, but about the trucks, and the delivery, and the roads, and the disturbance... and those are quite justified”.

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He went on to say: “There are large and uninhabited and desolate areas. Certainly in parts of the North East where there’s plenty of room for fracking, well away from anybody’s residence, where it could be conducted without any kind of threat to the rural environment.”

Yes, fellow citizens of North Yorkshire, fracking, it would appear, is coming to somewhere near you soon, and your environment is about to be threatened by a process that has been known to create carcinogens and poison ground water supplies. And that’s before you even consider the impact it could have on the region’s tourist economy. Licences for drilling have already been granted for areas from Easingwold to Tadcaster, Helmsley to Malton and Scarborough, embracing much of the Howardian Hills AONB and a further area, south of Danby, within the North York Moors National Park. These, I can only assume, would be the “desolate areas” referred to by Lord Howell!

The way in which this whole issue has been handled is a disgrace, and would seem to suggest some form of sub-text to the punitive cuts the Government has inflicted on northern councils over the last few years. You could hardly be blamed for thinking they had planned it all from the start in order to soften us up for fracking. Democracy, it would now seem, can be bought.

Environmental matters apart, how is this supposed to help the nation? Well, the Government claim it will provide cheap energy and jobs for many years to come.

However, there are already credible counter claims that the Government has substantially overstated this, and that the bounty of energy will, in fact, be rather short-lived. And, in any case, can anyone actually remember fuel costs ever going down for any worthwhile period of time?

From: Malcolm Beaumont, Wordsworth Way, Bamford, Rochdale.

I SUPPORT government encouragement of “fracking”. The environmental damage will certainly be much less than that of either deep-mined coal or open-cast coal. David Cameron’s proposal that one per cent of profit go to local authorities is less a bribe than a welcome form of compensation.

I understand that in Texas the basis is five per cent of profit which would be appropriate for the North of England, which has paid a heavy environmental price for mineral extraction in the past.

From: Robert Reynolds, Batley, West Yorkshire.

IN the history of bad ideas, fracking has to be up there. The French company Total is leading the frenzy for fracking and that gives us the first question, why are they here? It’s banned in France.

Will it pollute the environment? Growing evidence suggests yes. People having to live near these sites in America complained of polluted water, land and air, then were threatened with legal action, forcing their silence.

The sites will use thousands of gallons of water. Where will we get this water, considering we have spells of drought during the summer? This water will also be polluted and there are serious questions regarding decontaminating it. We don’t have the capacity.

They say the price of gas will fall and benefit households everywhere. As gas prices are manipulated by speculators in London, do you believe that?

Yet worst of all, areas polluted will need cleaning up. Just like in America. There, businesses went bankrupt, leaving the mess to be cleaned up by the taxpayer.

We were told Sellafield would clean up its mess. Now, the taxpayer must pay to do so. The Yorkshire countryside is our greatest treasure. Are we really going to wreck that too?

From: David Quarrie, Lynden Way, Holgate, York.

IT is very good news that there is so much shale gas trapped in the North of England. This area needs jobs, investment, wealth creation and new policies and industries.

I do hope as a nation we do not hang about and dawdle and debate for years.

We need to get started now to extract this cheaper form of energy, and make us far less dependant on Russian and French gas, Norwegian oil, coal from Poland, South Africa and Colombia and wind farms, wave power and solar panels. We have been fracking in the North Sea for many years without dire consequences.

It has worked well in parts of America. Yes, there will be initial snags, more lorries, busy roads, some unsightly locations, but the positives out weigh the negatives.

Our water supplies will not be polluted, we will not suffer earthquakes, and regulations and checks will be vigorously enforced.

I will not object to one near York.