Posts Tagged 'Shale Gas'

Fracking ‘eck! Is shale gas about to take off in the UK?

The Independent understands that Ed ‘Turbine’ Davey, the Energy Secretary, will soon end the current moratorium on shale gas production, which was put in place after fracking caused two small earthquakes near Blackpool in 2011.  His decision will pave the way for a significant increase in shale gas exploration, says the Indy.

This is a turn up for the books and one wonders if Davey’s opposition to exploration for shale gas is being marginalised within government.  In May, Davey told the House of Commons that at a seminar in 10 Downing Street with ‘experts in the shale gas industry’  the ‘experts’ were clear that it would take some time for shale gas to be exploited in the UK and that the shale gas reserves in the UK are not quite as large as some people have been speculating.  If that is the case then pressing ahead with shale exploration seems a curious development.

The identities of the ‘experts’ remains a closely guarded secret and our Freedom of Information request to the Cabinet Office, for details of the attendees, has met with the same door slamming response the BBC gave to Tony Newbery when he sought the identities of the ‘best scientific experts’ who advised the BBC to report in biased fashion about climate change.  The only thing we know for certain is that the only company currently exploring for shale gas in the UK, Cuadrilla, were not invited to the Downing Street chinwag – something of a curious decision.

Could it be that we are seeing a glimmer of common sense dawning in Whitehall?  The signs look good because if Greenpeace are rattled by what they have learned from the response to their FOI request it can only mean something that undermines their Agenda 21 inspired attempt to de-industrialise the UK and drag us back into the stone age is in the offing.  Here’s hoping!

Frack off, Cameron

Back in May this year, Ed Davey revealed to Parliament there had been a discussion at Number 10 with ‘experts in the shale gas industry’ concerning shale gas in the UK.

What was interesting about this, as Andrew Montford at the Bishop Hill blog pointed out, was that these experts apparently told David Cameron and other assembled stuffed shirts that it would take some time to exploit shale gas – and that ‘strong regulation’ would be required.  It was certainly a strange sentiment coming from people in the industry, who presumably would want to push ahead quickly to exploit shale, and do so with minimal constraints.

As Montford speculated at the end of his post, ‘I wonder who Number Ten’s experts were?’  I wondered the same thing, which is why I submitted the Freedom of Information request shown below:

Now bearing in mind in April this year, none other than the Cabinet Office (the department that would field my request) Minister Francis Maude wrote in the Guardian (where else?) the claims below, one would expect that openness and transparency to be readily on display:

Since coming to office, the coalition has made great strides towards David Cameron’s commitment that the United Kingdom would be the most open and transparent government in the world. We have already brought a new openness to all areas of government, radically challenging the damaging idea that public data is owned by the state, not the citizen.

- Francis Maude, The Guardian, 19 April 2012

But of course, when it comes to politics we are in the Post-Truth Age.  Anything goes in this ideologically bankrupt administration, so long as it and its friends benefit.  Which is why more than two months after submitting my request – without explanation for the failure to comply with the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, or apology for the delay and failure to respond to my follow up queries – I received the following:

The suspicion is that the government is – as it so often does – only listening to opinions that reinforce its viewpoint and agenda.  It stretches the bounds of credulity that even if the likely reserves of shale are not as extensive as some might suggest, representatives of the shale gas industry would seek to hinder their effort to exploit shale and actually demand significant government action to restrict the extraction of shale.

The rhetorical question is, in whose interest is this government working?  It’s certainly not ours.


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