Fracking wins the day

At the start of the Spectator debate this evening 89 were in favour of fracking, 37 were against and 44 had no view.
By the end of the debate 112 were in favour, 38 against and 15 abstained.
There was an air of realism in the hall about how the Uk can earn its living in future, and the requirement for more domestic energy supplies to meet our power needs.

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  1. Mark
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    It is encouraging that open minds appear to have been swayed 23 to 1 in favour. Perhaps if the case were able to be made in similar fashion on television we might find that in fact there is broad public support for something that really might help cut energy bills, and at the least, improve our balance of payments and help maintain tax flows that otherwise will decline as North Sea production falls.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Not much chance of that on the BBC is there?

      • Hope
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        Ineous has a solution they are pursuing to save Grangemouth. The UK is sitting on a wealth of coal and shale gas, it beggars belief how anyone would vote Lib Dumb, Lab or Tory. People will die of cold this winter, people will not be able to afford heating, businesses will relocate and jobs will be lost. Jobs still going to China who uses coal fired power stations, jobs still going to Asia where the same applies, the US the same. So what is this exactly for, stupid ideology without scientific fact and greed with nothing in return.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Well said Mark, you beat me to it.


    • alan jutson
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink


      Result probably due to people listening to the debate and argument without press or TV coverage putting over their own views.

      • Edward2
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        Very well put Hope.
        We read now of 31,000 extra deaths due to the colder than average winter of last year.
        I just wish those who keep telling us about the dangers of an increase of less than one degree in the last century, could begin to understand just how truly catastrophic cold winters are when added to their disastrous energy policies.
        Just how many more might perish from the cold if there are power cuts at times of peak demand in the future?

        • uanime5
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

          I just wish those who keep telling us about the dangers of an increase of less than one degree in the last century, could begin to understand just how truly catastrophic cold winters are when added to their disastrous energy policies.

          I just wish those who keep ignoring the science because it conflicts with their ideology would realise that in many parts of the world a 1 degree increase makes it impossible to grow food.

          Let’s not forget that if climate change causes more extreme weather we may end up with hotter summers and colder winters.

          • Neil Craig
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

            Another example of the complete lack of honesty that is the very highest standard of honesty to be expected from any “Green”.

            “in many parts of the world a 1 degree increase makes it impossible to grow food.”

            This is simply a total lie.

          • oldtimer
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

            You seem to be unaware that agricultural output is at record levels and that the satellite observed changes in CO2 have been accompanied by a greening of parts of the Sahel desert. This is nothing to do with ideology but with observed facts.

          • libertarian
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

            Please provide, evidence or a link to any country that has made it impossible to grow food as you state.

            Like your so called “climate science” your “facts” are all made up

          • Edward2
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

            I’m not ignoring the science at all Uni, I’m actually quoting it.
            It is an agreed peer reviewed figure that the amount of global warming they have measured is 0.7 of one degree average increase in the last century.
            And I’m pointing out agreed other Government figures that there were 31,000 extra deaths caused by a colder than average winter in the UK which leads me to conclude that colder not warmer is more dangerous for survival.
            If you are now claiming global warming now also at the same time creates global cooling then I would be keen to see some scientific evidence from you to prove that.
            I would also like to see some scientific evidence from you of the areas in the world that a) have had an increase of 1 degree and b) as a result now find it impossible to grow food as you claim.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

      Unless these people who were swayed want fracking near them nothing will change.

  2. lifelogic
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Lets get fracking then – what on earth has taken so long. Oh and stop vandalising the old coal fired power stations (or burning expensive imported wood waste in them) as coal is getting a lot cheaper too due the cheaper gas from fracking.

    Too late to save the Tories now though.

    • Hope
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Lords currently trying to make an amendment to th energy bill to shut the coal fired power stations quicker! At the same time another warning about whether there might be sufficient power next year. Absolute imbeciles in charge, DECC needs wholesale clear out. A problem created by liblabCon overwind power where no problem existed. Another dim-witted promotion by the EU.

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        Indeed and valuable assets that could burn (now very cheap) coal being destroyed for no reason other than the new EU religion. Is it a plan by the EU to save on long term care of the elderly by freezing them each winter?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        The House of Lords needs a wholesale clear out.

        As does the House of Commons.

      • A different Simon
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        Hope ,

        Those old coal powerstation’s should have been replaced or enhanced at least a decade ago .

        Unfortunately nobody was going to invest anything in coal given the political vendetta against it so they just continued to run the out of date coal powerstations into the ground spewing forth more toxins than necessary .

        The Lord’s are now trying to use evidence of the real deleterious effects on human health of old coal powerstations as justification for outlawing all coal .

        The giveaway that this is purely political ideology is that they want an amendment to prevent coal powerstations from being enhanced to clean up their flue gasses .

        In situ coal gasification (underground coal gasification) has come a long way recently and leaves the ash underground and a large proportion of mercury underground which conventional coal powerstations would emit .

        The Lord’s would end up doing that too . They are effectively attempting to do to Britain what Hollande and his predecessor have done to France regarding shale gas and tight oil .

        I keep thinking that common sense is starting to prevail in the UK but the fifth columnists are entrenched in the BBC and it seems the House of Lord’s .

  3. Richard1
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    I attended, congratulations on a clear speech. To give credit to the oppo I thought at least the Friends of the Earth guy was coherent, and the Greenpeace guy was clear about why he was anti-fracking: because it means a departure from green virtue. It was interesting that there was no real attempt by the green side to advance the discredited fracking scares on earthquakes, igniting taps,contaminated water etc. Those scares have been comprehensively debunked. Their argument really is that the world is heading for disaster due to global warming, so carbon fuels must be left in the ground irrespective of the economic cost. A few green myths were aired which the format of the debate didn’t allow to be challenged. The greens asserted: that the Philippines typoon was due to ‘climate change’ (the science does not support this); that the last decade was the warmest for 1400 years (disputed and unproven); that there has ‘never been’ CO2 as high as 400 ppm (nonsense); that the pause in global warming isn’t relevant as the decadal average is rising (a statistical irrelevance as of course that’s the case since we had warming from the mid 70s to the mid 90s). They were pulled up on untruthful claims about renewable use in Germany – it isn’t close to 50% as the greens claimed and coal use is increasing.

    So to vote with the greens in this you needed to accept spurious statements about global warming and related issues, they had no answer to the substantive case put by you and Peter Lilley.

    Reply Thanks. We did not debunk the extreme global warming claims because the chairman stressed he did not want a global warming debate, and they seemed so silly.

    • oldtimer
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Thank you for that first hand account.

      What really matters, of course, are the sustained attempts by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace to frustrate applications to drill wherever and whenever they arise. On these occasions there needs to be present those who will rebut those claims that are assertions that seek to mislead or delay. Unless this occurs then practical progress on evaluating the actual potential of shale gas will be slow indeed.

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        Exactly and the planning system is such that it allows endless delays.

        • Bazman
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

          No problem with it stopping anything you are against though is there like HS2?

          • lifelogic
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

            Anything that kills HS2 is indeed welcome as it is clearly such an economic and environmental absurdity. As anyone can see after about an hour crunching the numbers.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

            That not my point. Can you not see this?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      I assume all the arguments from the anti-fracking lot were the usual appeals to emotions and fear. Did they show or describe any images of pretty Polar Bears beautifully photographed on lumps of ice or London under 50M of water, or methane fires coming out of taps? Did they make any absurd claims about extreme weather events?

      Can one get a pod cast/transcript?

      Reply The main argument against fracking was that we should leave hydrocarbons in the ground owing to lethal CO2. The Spectator will probably post a video or summary soon.

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Lethal CO2 the harmless, odourless, clear plant, tree and seaweed food and great aid to crop growth. CO2 that will just be emitted in China etc. instead and most of which is emitted naturally anyway.

        Were they all against nuclear too (just to add to the joke science) or have they finally seen the light on that one? Did they talk the usual nonsense about 95% certainty or 99% of scientists in the field agree that ……. ?
        Did they come up with any workable, economic, alternative solutions of course they did not.

        • Richard1
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

          The green speakers did open up by attacking the proponents of the motion as ‘politicians’ versus the ‘scientists’ who support global warming theory (and actually one attacked the chairman also on these grounds, but the comment was allowed to pass – not fair play). the first argument advanced was that the global warming pause of recent years is no evidence that global warming fears have been exaggerated. As mentioned above this does not hold as we know there was warming from c 1976 to c 1998, so of course decadal averages show an increase.

          • lifelogic
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

            Any scientists who says you can predict the outcome of a hugely chaotic climate system for 100 year (and not even knowing all the inputs) is clearly not a scientist but more a man of religion. If they can do it for 100 years why not 10 days first just to show us then say 100?

            They should try predicting the far simpler national lottery first then when they win they can use the money for their climate religion.

            Anyway we do not even have many of the inputs, the volcanic activity, comet impacts, the Sun’s output, the future genetic changes in crops, the population, future technology changes, super bugs, viruses and countless other things ………. how can anyone believe them?

            One unforeseen invention or genetic variation alone could change the whole climate picture.

        • Bazman
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

          Gasses in high concentrations are not harmless as you well know and nuclears safety record and massive and unreal cost is far from a joke.

          • Edward2
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

            Nuclear is nice and clean and zero CO2 though Baz.
            Still no response from you as to just how you plan to keep the lights on using no coal no nuclear and mainly renewable sources of energy despite several requests.
            No fantasies nor left wing dreams please.

          • libertarian
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink


            What safety record would that be for nuclear then?

            According to the United Nations the total number of people directly effected by nuclear incidents/accidents in the 50 plus years of the industry is less than 300 ie less than the number of deaths caused by wind power in a single decade

          • Bazman
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

            Who says nuclear is clean and free from CO2? The amount of low level waste produced is staggering and the amount of CO2 produced, if you follow the carbon trail, massive. What is needed is much more conservation of energy and the massive subsidies spent on nuclear to line to pockets of foreign companies and their chums spent on making conventional sources in particular coal cleaner. Forcing house builders to produce more cost effective energy saving houses and the like, and not listening to their bleating that it cannot be done and is absurd. Their ideas go no further than smaller windows. Even my 1970’s ex council house in quite energy efficient and I have made it more so. What could be done with modern materials and determination? Insulating existing housing stock via grants and other means has been cut back giving the worse off higher bills now and in the future as well as more emissions and cost to the state.
            Nuclear power subsidised by the state, but telling us any wind subsidy is wrong even though it should only be short term, unlike nuclear which is forever underwritten by the state, forever, and allowing the captured free market to suck out this money via billing companies without any new power stations being built except subsidised foreign collectives in this case Communist China and socialist France and selling as much energy as possible at guaranteed high prices is the right wing fantasy with left wing ideals. Ram it.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

            There lies the weasel words ‘directly affected. The number of deaths due to cancers and other long term health issues runs into thousands one report says nearly a million due to Chernobyl alone. There is no unemployment and smoking is a small risk. Less deaths than conventional energy this is true, but hardly a defence. The only reason that there is no privately owned nuclear power stations within the M25 is due to elf n safety. Yeah. Right. Isotopes from the reactor have been found in hoover bags in the Village of Sellafield. Don’t tell us this is not a problem and if they were found in a London hoover it would be OK. More right wing fantasy.

        • uanime5
          Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:04 am | Permalink

          CO2 isn’t harmless as it is fatal to humans in small amounts.

          • oldtimer
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

            This is rubbish. Backyard greenhouses can have c800 to 900 ppm of CO2 in them – I do not recall hearing about the deaths of thousands of keen gardeners as a consequence but it does help the tomatoes grow. US nuclear submarines are rated as safe up to at least 5000 ppm.

          • libertarian
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink


            Ha ha ha that is so funny.

            Co2 which is what humans and other animals breath out is only dangerous if you are in either an oxygen less environment ( asphyxiation ) or in concentrations far greater than 7,000 ppm ( currently c02 levels in the atmosphere are 391ppm ) The world health organisation tell us that office environmental c02 is SAFE up to 5,000 ppm.

            And you want to talk about science…..

          • Bazman
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

            Ha ha ha that is so funny.
            As he says 1000 ppm equals 0.1% and even 5000 ppm equals just 0.5% and is a maximum exposure limit level in the USA over a 5 hour day which would not be found in a home or office. 1.5% would be unpleasant, 3% risk of death, convulsions and muscle pain, 8% convulsions immediate paralysis and death.
            And you want to talk about science…..
            Ram it.

    • Acorn
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure if it is understood that “fracked” gas wells don’t last long. There output drops off about 70% in the first year; much faster decline than a conventional gas or oil well. You have to keep drilling new wells to keep the output of a gas “field” going. That means a lot of well heads and drilling rigs, flaring gas night and day. Plus the five hundred six axle road tankers to ferry in clean water and ferry out flushing water from the well site. (20,000,000 Litres are usual to drill, frack and commission just one well).

      BTW. A couple of small earthquakes in an on shore gas field, plays hell with the cement that is sealing the well casings to the sides of the hole. This results in leaks up the outside of the casings, and as learnt in the US, high levels of leaked methane in well water collected near shale-gas drilling and fracking sites.

      Scientists from Duke’s University collected and analysed water samples from 68 private groundwater wells across five counties in northeastern Pennsylvania and New York. “We found measurable amounts of methane in 85 percent of the samples, but levels were 17 times higher on average in wells located within a kilometer of active hydrofracking sites,”

      Southern Counties have been told by Minister “Fracking” Fallon that it’s “drill baby drill”, Sarah Palin style. Should go down well on the doorsteps of blue voting Hamshire, Surrey; Sussex, Dorset etc.

      • Acorn
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

        Oh the wonders of instant global communication. As a result of which on another site, I am advised of the following. If you are going to find a fracking rig turning up in your neighbours garden, then invest in a hydrogen sulphide monitor. This will prevent you being gassed to death in your sleep.

        Fear not. In the UK, the government (via Crown Estates) owns the gas; oil; coal; gold and silver beneath your house. In the US, it is common to separate the private ownership of the above surface and below surface mineral rights and sell them separately. The latter being retained by the house builder nowadays, and most likely sold on to an oil and gas company, who one day will turn up in your garden uninvited.

        It pays to read the small print in the title document when you buy a house in the US, which most don’t. Remember that if you are thinking of emigrating, otherwise, you also will get screwed by corporate America.

        • Richard1
          Posted December 4, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink

          Did that site inform you how many Americans have been poisoned by hydrogen sulphide after more than 1 million fracks over 60 years?

      • Mark
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

        With reference to the Duke study:

        They failed to note that researchers sampled a mere 68 wells across Pennsylvania and New York—where more than 20,000 water wells are drilled annually. They had no baseline data and thus no way of knowing if methane concentrations were high prior to drilling. They also acknowledged that methane was detected in 85% of the wells they tested, regardless of drilling operations, and that they’d found no trace of fracking fluids in any wells.

        It should be noted that the oil and gas bearing strata actually reach the surface in parts of Pennsylvania – Drake’s original oil well was only 69ft deep. This is in contrast to the geology in the UK, where the shale strata are at least 2000ft down in the Bowland area.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:02 am | Permalink

      It was interesting that there was no real attempt by the green side to advance the discredited fracking scares on earthquakes, igniting taps,contaminated water etc. Those scares have been comprehensively debunked

      Care to explain why the companies involved in fracking paid compensation to the people effected if these claims were debunked. Could it be because they weren’t debunked but were proven to be correct.

      The greens asserted: that the Philippines typoon was due to ‘climate change’ (the science does not support this)

      The science has shown that warmer oceans cause more violent storms, which is why the IPCC report said it was likely that the increase in violent storms since the 1970’s was due to global warming.

      that the last decade was the warmest for 1400 years (disputed and unproven)

      The temperature reading have proven that the last decade has been the warmest for 1,400 years.

      that there has ‘never been’ CO2 as high as 400 ppm (nonsense)

      Care to name the year this occurred. If you’re unable to then it’s clear that your claim is nonsense.

      They were pulled up on untruthful claims about renewable use in Germany – it isn’t close to 50% as the greens claimed and coal use is increasing.

      Germany currently gets 25% of its energy from renewable and they are likely to get more than 50% of their energy from renewables by 2050.

      In conclusion your attempts to mislead others isn’t fooling anyone Richard1.

      • Richard1
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        1. There is no evidence of earthquakes, igniting taps and contaminated water due to fracking – its a green scare. Cite your sources if you want to assert it. if these claims were valid, one of the 3 green speakers would have claimed it
        2. The IPCC states that the evidence for linking an increase in extreme weather events to global warming Is weak – not surprising as (contrary to green forecasts) there has been no increase in such events. the IPCC has not attributed the Philippines typhoon to global warming
        3. I’m surprised you are ignorant of past CO2 levels given you blog on the subject. Google it – you’ll see there are many periods in the past when CO2 > 400ppm
        4. No-one has ‘proved’ that the last decade was the warmest in 1400 years. it is a disputed fact (& hardly relevant anyway – after all Roman times were rather more benign than the colder dark ages)
        5. Germany is at 25% renewables as you say, not 50% as the green speaker claimed. Since German industry is rebelling against the policy of high costs it is very unlikely they will get to 50% renewables.

        So its you who are wrong on all counts. Neither you nor these green speakers can fool people with spurious ‘facts’.

  4. lifelogic
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Well not much in the way of opposition. Would you fly on a plane designed by people like these opposition speakers? Can they even wire a plug? Is not not time to look at the legality and tax reliefs of some of these “green charities” in view of some of their hugely damaging and dangerous activities?

    • Bazman
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Or supported by right wing simpletons with no arguments other than feelings that it is right? Charities set up as tax scams will of course be supported.

  5. Iain Gill
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile no RBS or NatWest cards are working, their internet banking is not working.

    Another victory for outsourcing our critical national infrastructure (words left out ed).

    • oldtimer
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      If, or perhaps when, the grid is shutdown because of the lack of generating capacity, this problem will affect everyone.

  6. Brian Taylor
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Aged 67, I hope I live to see Shale Gas produced in the UK!!

  7. APL
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    JR: “At the start of the Spectator debate this evening .. ”

    Nice, but what does the government you support propose to do?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      “Nice, but what does the government you support propose to do?”

      A bit of pro fracking talk of course “in a balanced sustainable energy mix” I suppose they will say – for the 17 months left.

      • APL
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic: “for the 17 months left.”

        Funny how the Tory party are hinting here about sensible energy policies, a tid bit there about repatriating poweres from Brussels.

        Oh! and what a coincidence, there is a general election looming.

        Wonder whats causing their change of heart? It’s a mystery.

  8. Roger Farmer
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    The debate results are interesting and I suspect that there would be even more support in the country as a whole. This would be particularly relevant in the light of current energy costs and what fracking could reduce them by, not to mention a security of energy supply which is not possible under the current green madness.
    I would suggest that the situation is so critical that powers should be invoked such as those used to evacuate certain villages during WW2 for training purposes. With fracking no evacuation is necessary, just the power to silence the great unwashed rent a mob who are always in search of a cause. No more debate, just get on with it. The arguments for cheap energy are overwhelming.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:08 am | Permalink

      With fracking no evacuation is necessary, just the power to silence the great unwashed rent a mob who are always in search of a cause.

      Somehow I doubt silencing dissent and forcing people to accept fracking is compatible with democracy and human rights.

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    All you have to do now is to get this government moving. A far more difficult challenge as “an air of realism” seems to be lacking.

  10. John Wrake
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Unhappily, I was unable to see or hear the debate.

    I have heard that each fracking pad requires in excess of 2 million gallons of fresh water to carry the fracking sand and chemicals to depth and that this water is then non potable.

    Was the question of adequate supplies of fresh water for the number of planned pads discussed in any depth and what was the outcome of that discussion?

    Given the perennial threat of hose-bans in this country, due to inadequate water supply, this would seem a major factor.

    John Wrake.

    Reply We dealt at length with the water argument. The wells need much less water than you suggest, and they do not pollute water reserves.

    • Roger Farmer
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      If a friend of mine could get drinkable water from his heavy metal plating plant via comprehensive filtration, then filtering fracking’s dirty water should be relatively easy.

    • Richard1
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      A very clear answer was given to this question by the third speaker for the motion. I didn’t make note of what he said, but from memory the estimated increase in water use due to fracking (in a relevant area) was 0.1%. The amount required is a very small fraction of that required eg to water a golf course and an infintissimal fraction of the amount lost through pipe leakage.

    • A different Simon
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      John Wrake ,

      Saline water from deep aquifers has been used elsewhere around the world and even treated seawater .

      In the UK the utilities sometimes provide grey water rather than potable water when wells are being frac’d .

      The water needs to be treated for various purposes such as to stop it causing clays in the shale to expand .

      Water is expensive in America and more and more flow-back water is being reused and recycled .

      Most existing UK onshore wells are in decline and producing greater than 1 barrel of produced formation water for each barrel of oil . Huge volumes of formation water are already treated and disposed of so this is nothing new .

      In the U.S. , the amount of water used to perform a frac job every 400 feet along an 8,000 foot horizontal lateral is less than is used to water an 18 hole golf course for 2 weeks over Summer .

  11. English Pensioner
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Whilst I would not like fracking to take place next door because of the noise, traffic, etc, I would have no objection to it in general terms as most of the arguments against it like polluted water and “methane coming out of the water taps” have been shown to be false. As there remains a small risk of minor earthquakes, I would expect some no-quibble insurance cover to be provided to compensate me should such earthquakes damage my home.
    In fact, in this area, the construction of HS2 will cause more long term damage to the water supplies than any amount of fracking, the government’s environmental report showing that there will still be damage 40 years after the construction. I suspect that fracking would do more good for the country than HS2 will ever do, and it suggests to me that this is another area where the government has got its priorities wrong.

    Reply As we now have deviated well drilling, the main shaft down can be well away from habitation.

    • Roger Farmer
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      My son is a directional driller, I don’t think he would like to be described as a deviant. I do not know what the current record is, but I believe that at Wych Farm they achieved around 10KM horizontally.

      Indeed, they did drill more than 10km I am told.

      • A different Simon
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        In a vertical well with a reasonably short horizontal lateral the weight of the drill string will push the bit forward .

        In the case of an extremely long lateral like Wych Farm I’d love to know how they managed to keep the drill string from getting stuck .

        Maybe they drilled it at an angle . Whatever they did it’s an engineering triumph .

  12. Neil Craig
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I agree with Mark above. That audiences, when allowed to see a free debate, move so strongly and consistently (the same effect is seen whenever “catastrophic global warming” is debated) shows how corrupt, biased, censoring and totalitarian our most influential media is.

    If we were a society used to media free speech, getting a little of it on this one subject, could never change minds to this extent.

    The BBC NEVER allows debates in which both sides are represented. It is the most authoritarian fascistic broadcaster in the developed world and its role in promoting totalitarianism and Luddism simply cannot be underestimated.

  13. Mark B
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Sorry to ‘wee-wee’ on some people’s parade’s but I must remind you all of what our Supra-National Government’s views on Shale Gas are. It is they (EU Commission) that will have the final say on this as Energy and the Environment are EU Competences (powers).

    Here are some links to the EU website, and a quick perusal seems to suggest that, although ‘Member States’ are in favour, the Commission might not be so hot on the idea with regards to the environment. And when you take into account how well funded and organized the Green’s are on the Continent, we may yet see more twists and turns in the saga that will happily grace an Agatha Christie novel.

    Our MP’s are no longer in control. Get use to it !

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Hold on, just because most of the present lot of MPs are long used to not being in control that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to accept that deplorable situation; if the present lot don’t want to do the job for which they were elected then we should boot them out and put in people who do want to do it. Of course in most, although not all, constituencies that means the electorate would have to break the habit of voting for old party candidates.

    • APL
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Mark B: “Sorry to ‘wee-wee’ on some people’s parade’s but I must remind you all of what our Supra-National Government’s views on Shale Gas are. ”

      Yes, and particularly John Redwood KNOWS that too. Which makes posts like this all the more reprehensible.

  14. Atlas
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m pleased to read of the debate’s success. If fracking is safe then the sooner we get going the better.

  15. cosmic
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    There is of course this from the EU, strengthening the Environmental Impact Assessment.

    Amending Directive 2011/92/EU

    It’s a European parliament official link.

    So it looks as if measures are afoot at an EU level which would greatly impede fracking exploration. Naturally environmental NGOs have been advising on this and are delighted with the way things are going.

  16. John Wrake
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    In your reply to my comment, you state that wells need much less water than I suggested (2 million gallons of fresh water per well).

    How much ‘less’ is ‘much less’?

    Will you substantiate your claim that much less water is needed by quoting the average amount used in drilling wells that have been drilled so far. Given the large number of wells already drilled in the U.S. and Australia, that information should be readily available.

    Given that any recovered water used in the process is then unfit for drinking, and Mr Cameron has stated that he looks for 800 wells as the first aim, how can it be true that such an aim will not pollute the available water resources of this country?

    John Wrake.

    Reply The gas is not in the same strata – or usually anywhere near the strata – that contain water reserves.

  17. John Wrake
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    May I ask again for some definitive information on the amount of fresh water required to drill a fracking well, which you claim is much less than 2 million gallons, and how much of that water has been recovered and made available for public consumption, in the case of those wells which have already been drilled?

    You have also failed to answer my second question, which was concerned with the availability of water resources and is unrelated to underground strata.

    If a process entails putting large quantities of fresh water into the ground in conjunction with substances which make any water returned to the surface poisonous and unfit for human consumption, are you suggesting that such loss of potable water has no implication for the water available for public use?

    Any comment to the effect that water used in fracking is no more significant than the water used in maintaining a golf course must come from someone whose reasoning powers are sadly depleted. Watering water, to coin a phrase, is like the rain and eventually permeates the ground to replenish the aquifers. Water that has been used in a fracking well would not be a welcome addition to the aquifers until it has been entirely cleared of the poisons it contains.

    Can you please tell me of the equipment that has been put in place to achieve that outcome at the same time that a well is being drilled?

    John Wrake.

    Reply I was too hasty in my responses. Peter Lilley told us last night that water quantities had been overstated. The truth is water use is very variable depending on the geology and the way the operator intends to frack. Cuadrilla who may seek permission in the UK to frack is talking about using mains water, and then re using water. Companies are now seriously developing recycling systems for the water used in fracking, or settle the returned fracking fluid in tanks to organise safe disposal. A frack is undertaken to start production, and the water typically is returned to the surface for treatment or re use.
    The acquifer is usually in a very different stratum from the gas. This is protected from the fluid by several layers or casings around thw well, placed there before any fluid is injected.

  18. @binnsmeister
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    John, thank you for a very enjoyable and informative evening. I’m very pleased with the outcome of the debate and particularly enjoyed the skewering the Green team got on the subject of new German coal fired plants.

    I was sitting just in front of the rowdier (and I suspect probably alcohol- fueled) greenoid element and it was good to see them get a well deserved come-uppence for a change. I dare say I left the event a lot happier than they did.

  19. John Wrake
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    In your less hasty reply to my questions, you have only substituted Mr. Lilley’s unquantified statement on the amount of water required for your own. Are you saying that his statement is more reliable than yours? Why can you not answer the question with some factual figures from the experience gained up to now, which is what I asked for?

    If Quadrilla is allowed to use mains water for fracking, which then becomes poisoned, how will this not reduce the water available for public use in a country which has a history of perennial water shortages?

    If companies are now seriously developing systems for recycling returned water, what systems have been in use in the two decades since fracking started? Have they not been seriously developed so far.

    What proportion of the water injected into the well actually returns to the surface for recycling?

    John Wrake

    • oldtimer
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Mr Redwood has previously posted on the UK water supply, pointing out that more than enough rain falls on the UK to supply every need and more. What is lacking is not water but adequate reservoirs and a pipe network to move water from areas of surplus to areas of need when that is required.

  20. John Wrake
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Oldtimer at 10.59,

    An interesting comment on why Mr. Redwood hasn’t answered my questions.

    Are we then to suppose that the fracking companies are supplying new reservoirs and pipework to the South East which has frequently suffered water shortages, so that the projected drilling at Balcombe can go ahead at the same time that the new recovery facilities which are being vigorously pursued are put in place.

    What lengths will people go to in order to avoid answering simple and straightforward questions about this country’s water supply. I find it strange that my comments and questions always seem to end up at the end of the site.

    John Wrake

    Reply Drilling does not require fracking water. You only need fracking water if there is gas to produce , if the reservoir is tight and you have a production licence. The amounts of water needed, how they would be obtained and how return water would be cleaned would be considered prior to the issue of a production licence if fracking were needed.

  21. John Wrake
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Reply to reply at 11.49 p.m.:

    Either you are trying once again to avoid the question, or you are sadly confused.

    The question is not related to normal drilling for oil, such as at the site in Dorset, but the drilling required for ‘fracking’, about which you posted the positive response of the audience to the presentation you gave. This process relates to the production of gas by drilling into the tight geology of the shale or coal measures where there is no reservoir to tap and where clean water with sand and poisonous additives is injected into the rock or coal under very high pressure to open pathways for the gas to return up the drill-pipe.

    Since the Prime Minister and your Party are clearly in favour of ‘fracking’, which was the reason for your presentation, let us agree that production licences will not be a problem.

    In the meantime, (i.e. now) which you claim will be the time for consideration of water needs and provision and how any returned foul water will be recovered, will you please answer my questions:
    1) How much water is needed for the ‘fracking’ of one well?
    2) What measures are in production to return ‘fracking’ water to a potable state?
    3) What proportion of the injected water and additives is normally recoverable?

    John Wrake

    Reply People who are against onshore gas exploration and development are not just against the techniques called fracking but again conventional drilling and extraction as well. I made this clear in my talk. The answer to your questions depends on the gas field and the operator concerned. It is possible to recover most of the water, or to handle it in other ways on return to the surface. Water is not a scarce resource – our planet is full of it. If there are additional costs in collecting and cleaning it they can be found from within the gas well budgets.

  22. John Wrake
    Posted December 6, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    reply to reply at 10.41 a.m.:

    Mr. Redwood,

    Please do not keep avoiding the questions I ask by raising other issues.

    We are talking about the fact that it has been established that large areas of this country sit over shale and coal measures from which only ‘fracking’ can extract the gas and the Prime Minister and your Party have expressed huge enthusiasm for using this technique to answer our future energy needs, following the experience in America and Australia.

    First attempts near Blackpool have ceased, following two minor earth tremors. Further exploratory wells have been or are being attempted at Balcombe in Sussex and Barton Moss near Manchester in the face of local public resistance. These wells are aimed at possible gas extraction by ‘fracking’ and are not about conventional oil wells, for which there is no geological evidence of reservoir oil.

    Your statement about the plenitude of water on the planet is disingenuous in the extreme, since most of it is salt and unsuitable for the process in question. You have stated that Quadrilla, the company involved at Balcombe, intends to use mains water.

    Please answer my questions.

    John Wrake.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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