Copy of a letter from North West France branch of Labour International to Caroline Flint MP
Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP
Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary,
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
19 May 2013
FRACKING FOR SHALE GAS
For some time the NW France Branch has been involved in the campaign against the so-called “Fracking” process for the extraction of Shale Gas, both here in France as well as in the UK. We made a submission to the DECC Inquiry in December 2012 and we await the outcome of their deliberations.
I would emphasise that we are not campaigning against Shale Gas per se, but the “Fracking” process which we believe carries unacceptable environmental risks. It appears to us that the risks are being overlooked in the rush to profit from as-yet unquantifiable quantities of gas. All the experts seem to agree, with the possible exception of the prospecting companies, that the amount of gas lying in the shale beds is unquantifiable at the moment and the amount recoverable is anyone’s guess. I am sure you will be aware of the moratorium put on Fracking by the French government, although the prospecting for Shale Gas continues under licence.
Although Fracking appears to be the sole method being used to extract Shale Gas, safer and more economical methods must be found and properly evaluated if the gas recovered is to be of significant benefit to the UK fuel demands in the future.
The Fracking process poses risks to the aquifers in respect of the chemical content of the liquids used in the process and the radiological markers that are used to measure drilling progress. Should any of these toxic compounds enter the water sources they could pose a significant risk to human health. There is also a risk of blow-out during the process which risks contaminating the atmosphere and surrounding land as has happened in the USA. I refer to the UK Environment Agency recommendations to the Government and also the report by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research (Manchester University).
The prospect of seismological events has been publicised in the national media and has been largely dealt with. However, it appears to us that controls on the use of the highly toxic and radioactive chemicals and also on the disposal of toxic waste from the drilling process are lax and largely unmonitored. In particular we are concerned at the re-cycling of the millions of gallons of polluted water that result from the process and at the disposal of radioactive waste.
We ask whether the Party has a defined policy on Fracking and, in particular, the controls to be put in place on the process and on amelioration of the environmental risks. Careful monitoring of environmental effects in and around the prospecting areas is certainly required and we believe the Party should have a sound position as the economic arguments in favour of Shale gas take a more prominent place.
We hope that you are able to give us reassurance on these issues.
NW France Branch of Labour International