Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury:Viewed from a safe distance, without any facts to hand and a warning from Ofgem this week of a future energy crunch, fracking for shale gas seems an obvious option - lots of cheap energy, thousands of new jobs and a fall in carbon emissions. What's not to like?
Perhaps we should ask some of the people who live amongst the fracking wells in Smithfield, Pennsylvania, USA. At first glance, fracking has brought increases in business in this small town, for example, the diner, opened three years ago, which has almost doubled its takings and a car dealership which sees the fracking companies buy fifteen vehicles at a time.
A US senator, visiting the area at the request of concerned residents, has apologised for the apparent 'cavalier attitude' of the gas companies where the regulatory framework is still being drawn up and no-one has any idea of the long term effects of shale gas extraction. Two official studies on the impact of fracking on water quality and radiation build up are not due to be completed until 2014.
Even the people with a financial interest in fracking - wells can generate up to $20,000 a month in royalties - have expressed concerns and doubts about the safety of the process. A local farmer with 13 wells on his land has admitted that 'the wells are unsightly; they make noise and don't smell good'.
Be very clear about what you'll get if you say 'yes' to fracking!
Victoria Nicholls. Transition Deal.