June 13, 2014 1.54 pm This story is over 118 months old

Energy self-sufficiency won’t come from Lincolnshire fracking

Frack off: Pete Dixon questions the need for the government’s push to frack around Lincolnshire.

Hydraulic fracturing — fracking to you and me — good or bad? Climate and environmental issues aside, it’s clear that most people, when push comes to shove, couldn’t care less and would rather consume than conserve.

Let’s consider it from the angle that most concerns British consumers and our current government in particular: money! Money we can save, and money they can make.

The average citizen is working more for less, and facing increasing bills. So much so that millions of us are now defined as living in fuel poverty. The energy companies are raking in obscene levels of profit yet our bills are rising mercilessly.

Wholesale prices have dropped by 40% and still we pay more. What is our government doing about it? Their reaction is pitiful, reducing tariff types and insisting on bills that make it clearer to understand how much more we are having to pay. Hot air! That’ll address increased elderly mortality and fuel poverty!

Remember when our energy suppliers were privatised? I do. Supply and service would become more efficient, and competition we were promised, would lower prices as companies fought for our custom. That’s not how things have worked out and neither cheaper prices nor energy self-sufficiency will come as a result of fracking.

Why? Firstly, because the estimated reserves of gas are already being questioned and found wanting, just as has transpired in America. BP, British Gas, Shell and others who supply our fossil fuel based energy now, are right now lining up to start fracking in our backyards.

To assist their cause, our government is actively working on their behalf to ensure our reliance on fossil fuels deepens. Mr Cameron and his ministers are currently working to remove legislation which prevents companies drilling under our homes without permission.

Owen Patterson, the Environment Secretary, alongside the Chancellor, is adamant that the UK will be at the forefront of fracking exploration. Mr Osborne has already promised 50% tax breaks to those willing to drill.

Have no doubt, we are not on the verge of achieving fuel freedom or freedom from unjust increases. We are guaranteeing corporate wealth for profit hungry shareholders, including our own county council, who have pension investments worth £1.9 million in Total, a company who are investing £20 million to frack in Lincolnshire.

At the same time, renewable energy sources are subjected to disinformation, ridiculed or completely ignored by mainstream media. Subsidies provided to the renewables sector have been slashed and attacked without a mention of the billions handed out to fossil fuel companies annually.

Surely energy independence would be better achieved through utilizing a variety of resources. Wind, solar, coal, gas and nuclear. As investment grows and technology advances, we reduce our use of fossil fuels and produce genuinely cheaper clean energy for all.

Why haven’t we got solar panels on every suitable rooftop? Imagine the jobs that would have been created. All those new wage earners, helping us get through the recession. Imagine how much cheaper our fuel bills would be now if each property under which solar panels were fitted was paying less and earning a return on energy fed back into the grid.

That is why the push for fracking is on and renewable energy is being suffocated at every turn. Clean, renewable, cheap energy means a genuinely alternative source for us and less tax avoiding profit for the corporate and political elite, their friends and the devious lobbyists in Westminster.

Pete Dixon is a town councillor for Moor ward in North Hykeham, a member of the Green Party and Chair of the local branch. He works for the NHS at Lincoln County Hospital. Father of a young daughter, he's also a keen biker and enjoys watching Moto GP or a glass of Islay malt.