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Lincolnshire Residents Are Divided On Fracking

January 15th 2014

Fred Seymour

Fred Seymour

Fracking Poll
Recently David Cameron has given his backing to fracking in the UK, and earlier this week he said "we're going all out for shale". Local councils are to be given larger financial incentives to agree to allow these developments. This particularly affects Lincolnshire, all of which is either under consideration for shale extraction licenses, or has had them granted already.

These incentives come at a time when local councils are having their budgets cut by central government, and they are dissuaded from raising more money through taxation by the bonus they get for freezing council tax. So councillors will have to decide between money and the environmental concerns of their constituents. In Gainsborough, the French oil giant Total has expressed an interest in fracking in the Gainsborough Trough, even though this banned in France.

The poll

Are you in favour of fracking in Lincolnshire?

That's what we asked 106 people in Louth town centre on Wednesday, 15th January. The majority of people who responded, 93.4%, were from Lincolnshire. However, there wasn't much difference between the way residents or non-residents responded.

As the bar graph shows, 37.8% were against fracking, whilst 24.5% were in favour of it. However, a considerable number of people felt they didn't know enough about the issue to say one way or another. So there's everything to play for.

I was quite surprised at how many people welcomed fracking, some of them citing concerns about our future energy supplies. In fact, I heard statements about keeping the lights on, and the perceived unreliability of renewable energy sources, far more frequently than any concerns about providing jobs in the area. Resident Fred Seymour said "I think we should be independent of imported energy sources."

Climate change

One of the most prominent arguments against fracking is the danger to water supplies and the natural environment when toxic fracking fluid leaks into the water supply. However, Biff Vernon, who started the group Frack Free Lincolnshire, takes another tack. His blog features a series of posts on the topic, where he highlights global warming as the greater threat posed by shale gas extraction.

Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester,
points out that UK international commitments on climate change are incompatible with the development of a national shale gas industry. He says: "Shale gas is indisputably a high-carbon energy source. It is identical to natural gas, with 75% of its mass made up of carbon and consequently when combusted it emits large quantities of carbon dioxide."

This survey showed me, above all, that a lot of people have questions about the safety and value of fracking. There's a need for much more informed debate about what the risks are, what kinds of returns can be expected. I feel we need to sort these matters out, by looking at the fracking operations around the world and assessing how they have affected their communities, and this is going to take some time. But this is time that won't be available if the country rushes headlong into exploiting this fossil fuel without regard to the consequences.



 


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