Why Frack Free?

Q. Why should the Chew Valley be frack free? Shouldn’t we replace dirty coal with less dirty gas?

A. Whilst we recognise there is a continuing role for gas during the decarbonisation of our economy and as backup for intermittent sources the group does not believe that unconventional gas policy adds up – environmentally, economically or socially and until it does then the Chew Valley should remain Frack Free. We believe that the Chew Valley should remain Frack Free because:

  • The government’s unconventional gas policy is poorly conceived and unsupported by credible evidence and regulation
  • There is a disconnect between what the government is saying and doing and what its advisers, academics and even the industry are saying
  • Unconventional gas jeopardises both the local and global environment and is incompatible with our legal climate change commitments
  • The case for gas as a transition fuel, replacing coal, is overstated, even with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) gas is a relatively dirty fuel and the coal displaced may simply be burnt elsewhere
  • Unconventional gas will divert investment from renewable sources leading to long-term fuel insecurity
  • Investment in unconventional gas infrastructure will clutter our landscape, degrade our environment and quality of life
  • There is no evidence that unconventional gas will reduce gas prices or fuel poverty in the UK and prices may actually rise. Any cost-benefit analysis needs to include the environmental and intangible societal costs to have any meaning
  • Unconventional gas will be a short-term dash for cash leaving a legacy of stranded assets rather than leaving as a legacy of low-carbon renewable energy
  • In the South West of England 26% of households are not connected to the gas network including some whole villages in the Chew Valley
  • The Chew Valley, and indeed all of Somerset, is worth something more than so-called community incentives which would leave no sustainable energy legacy
  • Current fears of the lights going out are caused in large part by a lack of UK gas storage, not a lack of gas
  • To operate in the Chew Valley the gas industry will have to earn a ‘social licence to operate’ which it hasn’t yet done.

The Chew Valley is a place of great cultural and natural heritage which should not be industrialised for the sake of a short-term, short-sighted dash for cash. The Chew Valley has intrinsic worth not only for its residents and businesses but also for the people of Bristol, not least because of the services which it provides such as clean water, clean air, darkness, tranquility, recreation and natural beauty – for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the valley.

Whilst we are against the exploitation of unconventional gas resources in the Chew Valley we are for finding sustainable solutions to the difficult environmental and energy problems that we all face. Let’s get on with educating ourselves and decarbonising the Chew Valley rather than turning it into a fossil fuel gas field.

We want citizens, their representatives, businesses and land owners to have access to open, reliable and credible information about all aspects of the issues and how they may impact us.

Professor Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, explains:

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