“The health, safety and environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing (often termed ‘fracking’) as a means to extract shale gas can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation.” So says the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering in a recent review. So that’s all right then.
The astute reader may ask, who are the Royal Academy of Engineering? Well the president of the academy is Professor Dame Ann Dowling DBE FREng FRS. Sounds impressive doesn’t she? The dame has an excellent CV and she is obviously as establishment as you get with all those fancy letters and titles. But a quick scroll to the bottom of the page reveals that she is a non-executive director of BP, a firm which boasts that it pioneered the use of fracking in the 1940s and uses the technique worldwide. No conflict of interest there then dame. However BPs toxic reputation is stopping it from fracking the UK because they fear that there may be some protests.
Then there is the Trustee Board, which consists of 13 fellows, only one of whom has not kneeled before the queen. There is Mr Allan Cook CBE FREng, he is the chairman of WS Atkins who are involved in….the energy sector among other things. But of course he keeps his business interests completely separate from his duties in the Royal Academy.
Then there is Dr John E Roberts CBE FREng who is the Chairman of Halite Energy, a firm who want to store gas underground. Who knows where they intend getting the gas from, the company’s website was down when I tried to access it. With such worthy figures telling us that fracking COULD be safe then we have nothing to fear.
HM Treasury and Customs have halved the initial tax rates for fracking firms, in order “to support the early development of onshore oil and gas projects which are economic but not commercially viable at the 62 per cent tax rate.” So the plan is to get the fracking firms interested with some eye catching tax rates then, once the profits start to flow, ramp the tax up and watch the money flow into the treasury. Just what a skint chancellor would want.
Fracking licences are being auctioned off for the central belt of Scotland as we speak and work is well under way at various other sites throughout the UK. But at least we know we could be safe.