Your article (The dark side of the gas rush, cover story, December 9) fares well as a good horror story.
It tells of a modern Scottish Government willing to exchange the health, safety and welfare of its people for a pocketful of gas.
They have toadied to a bunch of foreign racketeers and chancers who want to make a fast buck for their foreign shareholders by fracking to extract gas, a technology distinguished by the fact that it has been banned in other countries because, although it may never deliver gas in any quantity, it does deliver radioactive waste, poisons and some carcinogens, and air and water pollution.
The utter recklessness of this project beggars belief. Oil companies cause loss of life, accidents and spillage, but the oil finally dissolves and seabirds get cleaned up. The oil industry has modern technology and massive capital to employ environmentalists to advise. This modern brand of chancers have not. The public should look into the background of this industry. I am shocked the Government has embraced this project.
It is unfortunate that your cover story and accompanying leader article were presented in such a sensationalist manner.
First, the areas you presented as being newly available for exploration have, in fact, been available for many years for oil and gas exploration. What is new is the potential to explore for so-called unconventional resources.
Second, although there have been isolated problems in the US in the past, the industry has become much safer in recent years, while problems relating to aquifer influx will not be an issue in Scotland as these are not a source of public water supplies here.
Third, the oil and gas sector in the UK, which includes a significant industry onshore (largely in the east and south of England) as well as the better known North Sea offshore industry, is probably the most regulated, safest and environmentally conscious large-scale industry in the UK. The industry can and will deliver these gas resources safely and efficiently while taking into account local concerns and employing a significant number of people. These efforts will increase our domestic supply of gas (and potentially oil), with the commensurate positive effect on our economy. The US is now self-sufficient in gas and many believe it will soon be self-sufficient in oil. This has had a significant effect on US economic growth and industrial development in the past four years (as well as reducing its carbon dioxide emissions, unlike Europe). Gas will also play an important part in the energy mix as we move towards a low-carbon economy.
When it comes to generating electricity it would appear there are no winners. Fracking for gas is the latest to hit the headlines. The list of objectors to all types of generators is virtually total. CATS (Communities Against Turbines Scotland) objects to wind farms. The Greens, WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth et al object to coal, gas and nuclear energy, joined now by "Frackoffscotland" objecting to mining for gas. Mr Trump rails against offshore wind farms, the John Muir Trust abhors hydro stations and then we have the "Nimbys" lined up to oppose wind farms with others celebrating the cancellation of Hunterston's coal plant. It is technically impossible to produce electricity without having an adverse effect on the environment. However, electricity is not a luxury but an essential. The task, therefore, requires a mix of technologies to provide secure, safe and affordable energy. All too often the objectors ignore this vital fact while homing in on their particular grievance. The pity is that the diverse complaints make it easier for governments to do as they wish.
Rob Edwards's article reminds me that Scotland once had a significant shale oil industry, particularly in West Lothian. Shale was mined and oil distilled from it – hence the many reddish shale bings in the area. That industry was destroyed by the UK Government putting a higher tax on petrol derived from it than on petrol refined from [at that time] imported oil. Doubtless there is considerable potential in Scotland for the harvesting of gas from the remaining shale deposits. It is probably cheaper and easier to get the gas associated with North Sea oil. If Scotland is to gain major benefit from our land or sea, we had better vote for independence in the referendum and follow Norway in making the best use of our resources to solve present problems and build a financial reserve for the future.
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