You may have seen in the news last week that the Government slipped through a couple of fracking-related announcements in amongst lots of other announcements. One of them was to reverse the previous commitment that fracking would not happen in National Parks and the other was to reveal the companies that have been granted the 14th round of drilling licences. The Dudleston area was the only part of Shropshire that was included in the 13th round, however almost all of Shropshire was offered as part of the latest 14th round. Interestingly, there were no takers for any new CBM licences in Shropshire.
Other parts of the country were not so lucky, including large areas of East Cheshire where the council previously declared a moratorium against drilling but is now under pressure from their local MP, George Osborne. We wish the residents of these areas well in their fight to retain their quality of life and environment.
When Owen Paterson MP was interviewed on Radio Shropshire recently he said that he welcomed drilling everywhere but accepted that it wasn’t going to happen here thanks purely to a well organised campaign against it. Very early on in that campaign we declared considerable evidence suggesting that attempts to extract gas from under this area would fail because the geology is not suitable. Dart Energy then published a letter that dismissed our evidence.
More recently we contested the planning appeal and then following their takeover of Dart, IGas dropped the appeal. Because the appeal was based on flawed grounds, we believe that it should never have been started, and therefore we submitted a claim for costs. During the costs process IGas declared that when their geologists assessed this area, they disagreed with the conclusion of the Dart geologists and that the appeal was dropped because the area was geologically unsuitable. The costs decision was taken by the Secretary of State and although costs were not awarded, the geological statement is very important for this area.
People will be relieved to hear that at this stage it looks extremely unlikely that there will be any further applications for CBM extraction in Shropshire.
As well as the announcements mentioned above, there have been numerous others in recent months that have had a dramatic impact on investors in clean energy. The papers have described it as an ideological vendetta and it is hard to find any sound logical basis. As well as cancelling almost all support for renewable energy, also cancelled was the investment in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Given the commitment to keep reducing our CO2 output, CCS is needed if new gas power stations are to be built otherwise their CO2 emissions will be too high. Hence CCS is seen by the unconventional gas industry as being essential to their future.
All of this experience contrasts sharply with that of Uruguay. In 2008 they made a robust cross-party commitment to investors in clean energy that they could invest with confidence. Even though there were no government subsidies, in seven years they have gone from being a major importer of power to being 95% renewable, selling their surplus power to neighbouring countries, and seeing their electricity prices falling. They achieved this just with wind, solar and biomass – all sources that are available to the UK. Contrast that with the power generation mess in the UK, the rapid rise in heavily subsidised diesel generator farms and the obscene amounts of money that we are now obliged to pay to China for new nuclear power stations.
It would be lovely if the Government could make a New Year Resolution to emulate the success of Uruguay.
Wishing you all a very happy Christmas,
TAP – I would add that the retreat from CCS – Carbon Capture and Storage is because private companies were realising the enormous potential for captured carbon, as a primary ingredient of methanol. Why pump it all underground at huge expense when it is commercially very valuable? The companies only needed to manufacture hydrogen which is very cheap to do (hydrogen is expensive to store, but cheap to to manufacture), the carbon would be bonded with hydrogen, and bingo – cheap methanol. Petrol and diesel sales would have been heavily hit, and so the government (big oil) panicked.
The primary advocate of using the captured carbon and fixing it onto hydrogen to make cheap fuel (cheaper than oil), Peter Fagiano, died of cancer in 2014, and you do wonder if his open criticism of the UK government for its planned waste of captured carbon along with billions of pounds was one of the reasons he died when he did.
He was the technical director for a plant in South Australia using captured carbon from an electricity generating plant (Altona Energy), but after his death, the plans were dropped, and now the resource is being sold for coal gasification, a highly polluting, and hugely inefficient process. The Satanists like George Osborne are still at it destroying our environment deliberately and wasting our economy to boot.