As Lincolnshire and the rest of the country looks to alternative sources of energy, the debate about fracking seems to continue to grow and split opinion. Supporters argue that it helps to secure our energy needs while critics claim that the environmental effects are catastrophic. But is it needed and is it welcome in Lincolnshire?
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves forcing fractures in a rock layer, by fluid that is put under pressure.
It can happen naturally, but the controversy surrounds how it is used to force oil and natural gas from shale.
The first case of hydraulic fracturing was two years after the Second World War in 1947. Since then, it has taken off worldwide, especially in the United States where it is estimated that 40% of the 2.5 million fracking jobs on oil and gas wells have been performed.
At this stage, it is understood that no fracking applications are close to being made in Lincolnshire.
However, the government handed out a raft of fracking licences to energy companies in the county in December 2015, meaning that it remains well and truly on the table.
Fracking has “part to play”
Councillor Colin Davie, portfolio holder for the environment at Lincolnshire County Council, previously said that fracking had a part to play in the county.
He said: “Lincoln is one of those parts of the country which has very little capacity in its electricity grid.
We need to solve that for the future otherwise we will not get all this investment and new hotels because we will not be able to connect them to the grid.
“Fracking does have a part to play but I do not think it’s the panacea that some people hold it up to be. I certainly do not think it will make the contribution that it has made in America.
“It’s a small part of a mixed basket of energy measures – it is not the big answer.”
The “perils” of fracking
Ben Loryman, from the Lincoln Green Party and associated with the Frack Free Lincolnshire, compared promoting fracking to taking an alcoholic to the pub.
He said: “The US Environmental Protection Agency reviewed the evidence on fracking and says this fluid contains many toxic and carcinogenic chemicals.
“Leaks of thousands of litres are commonplace, and these can reach groundwater coming into contact with wildlife, crops and drinking water.
“The fluid is transported in tankers, and you have to wonder how Lincolnshire’s country lanes will cope.
“Local residents who are bought off to accept fracking may feel they sold out cheaply when house prices tumble. And then there’s the landlord: many fracking companies are registered offshore, paying little, or no, corporation tax.
“The temperature in the UK has increased by one degree, and this was the hottest July on record again. However, the temperature in the Arctic has increased by four degrees, melting their ice roads.
The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stone and we should wean end the fossil fuel age as soon as possible.
“Alternative ways of providing the gas we do need could include the gas that is currently burnt off at the Tata Steel plant in Scunthorpe and anaerobic digestion of surplus agricultural produce and grass.”
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Stefan is the Local Democracy Reporter covering Greater Lincolnshire. You can contact him directly with your news via email at [email protected]