Cuadrilla under pressure from Fracktivists

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Hydraulic fracturing, or Fracking is the creation of fractures in layers of underground rock in order to extract gas or oil. Fracking, particularly for shale gas, has been introduced in the US and is currently being developed in the UK. Campaigners have criticised the practice, claiming the industry has harmful waste products and damages drinking water supplies as well exacerbating climate change and perpetuating dependence on fossil fuels. Drilling in preparation for fracking by Cuadrilla was found to be responsible for earthquakes on the Fylde coastline in April and May last year, by an independent report commissioned by the company.

Fracking has only become economically viable as a result of waining supplies of fossil fuels which can be extracted in the conventional fashion.

On 18 June 20 activists from campaign group Frack Off http://frack-off.org.uk/fracking-protesters-lay-siege-to-cuadrilla-drill-rig/”>blockaded Cuadrilla Resource’s drilling rig at its pound, owned by PR Marriot, in Chesterfield. They “descended on the site at 5am and locked themselves to the gates.” This prevented the rig from being moved to its site in Lancashire that day.

Elsie Walker, from Frack Off, stated: “The scale of development proposed is being completely ignored. Cuadrilla wants to drill 800 wells in Lancashire alone. They are one company going after one type of gas. There are several companies going after several types of unconventional gas in the UK and all potentially on a similar scale to Cuadrilla. If this goes ahead, we will witness the total industrialisation of the British countryside and the destruction of the land and water on which we depend. We cannot allow this to happen.”

She continued: “The worst thing about this tidal wave of unconventional-gas development is that it doesn’t offer us any solutions. The amount of gas is meagre, vast amounts of fossil-fuel energy is required to get it out and similar projects elsewhere in the world have consistently resulted in environmental catastrophe. We need to face reality and start exploring genuine ways of managing our energy needs in a world where cheap and easy fossil fuels are a thing of the past.”

A www.raeng.org.uk/news/releases/shownews.htm?NewsID=771”>report on the fracking industry was released on 29 June 29 by Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) & the Royal Society. Campaigners have criticised the report on the grounds that it cannot be considered independent due to pressure from the oil and gas industry.

The RAE is part funded by the oil and gas industry. In the last three years the RAE has taken £601,000 from ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Petrofac (an oil services company) – all of whom have links to fracking (see the RAE’s financial reports www.raeng.org.uk/about/annrev/default.htm”>here). Lord Browne, the Chairman of Cuadrilla, non-executive director to the Cabinet office, and former Chief Executive of BP, was the head of the RAE until last year.

On Wednesday 10 July the trial of three protesters who occupied a fracking rig in Merseyside last year will begin. A campaign press release states: “Three protesters have been charged with aggravated trespass and are pleading not guilty based on ‘necessity’; asserting stopping fracking is necessary in the context of run-away climate change and the damage it will cause the environment and local communities. Defendants will also be challenging the ‘lawfulness’ of the extractive process.”

“The defendants will be backed up by a number of witnesses, both ‘experts’ and from the local community, who will testify about the consequences of climate change and hydraulic fracturing, the damage it causes to water contamination, air pollution, severe health risks, earthquakes etc. The defence aim to totally rebuke industry claims that fracking is a harmless ‘environmentally friendly’ way to extract fossil fuel… and instead put the industry on trial.”

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