Britain’s public remains divided on fracking

A survey to determine Britain’s public view on energy sources delivered interesting results.  The British is all for renewable energy, but they remain divided, and perhaps even indecisive, on the matter of large-scale hydraulic fracturing.  But could this be due to published government reports leaning towards support for large-scale hydraulic fracturing in Britain?

‘Britain’s geohydrological conditions acceptable for fracking

Earlier in 2012, scientists associated with the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society officially reported that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it is more commonly known, could be given the go-ahead in Britain.  Their reasoning is based on the geophysical characteristics of Britain: geological and geohydrological conditions that could potentially sustain fracking.  Sustaining fracking with limited environmental pollution and contamination, that is, according to the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society scientists.  

The study anticipated no major seismic risks, or at least, nothing more than small earthquakes with tremors similar to the ramblings of a truck.  The scientists involved did however recommend that rigid guidelines and monitoring be incorporated – should the British government go ahead with large-scale fracking.

A complicated and dry matter

According to Britain’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), shale gas exploration throughout the UK is still in an infant phase and figures on the available shale gas reserves are not yet reliable.  But this does not mean that the UK does not have significant sources of shale gas.  A 2010 British Geological Survey gave indications of potential shale gas supply that could fuel the UK for some time.

But the matter is largely more complicated than this.  A former BBC News journalist reported on two minor earthquakes associated with the UK’s very first fracking attempt.  And it is only after these two minor earthquakes that the study by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society study were undertaken.

The amount of water  needed for fracking operations is a major global concern.  Frankly, these water reserves are not available or sustainable, regardless of geographical location. The consumption figures is beyond worrying: estimates are that a single fracking attempt requires five million gallons of water. The amount of water required can vary with the depth of the well.  But note, freshwater is needed – it makes one question why on earth is fracking even potentially on the books?

Convincing against fracking needed

With the recent discovery of extensive shale gas in northern England,  as well as the shrinking oil and gas resources in Britain’s North Sea, there is a good chance that British government could explore large-scale  fracking as an option to secure the country’s energy needs, albeit for short-term energy security.

However, with the recent public survey totaling both the anti-fracking and pro-fracking groups of Brits at 30%, there could well be an opportunity for increased awareness raising on the environmental impacts and hazards associated with fracking.  And potential convincing of the 30% pro-fracking Brits that fracking indeed will cause large-scale environmental and resource destruction.

Photo credits: some rights reserved by simpson391 and cecily.rose via flickr.

Sources: UK Department of Energy & Climate Change, PlanetSave and Al Jazeera

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