Letters - December 22, 2018

Fracking at the Preston New Road site
Fracking at the Preston New Road site

Opinion piece was ‘disrespectable’

Having just read The Gazette’s Opinion article by Andy Sykes (The Gazette, December 17) on the issue of fracking I felt I had to voice my opinion.

His disparaging comment that Coun Michael Green, Cabinet member for economic development and environment, should “go away and check with the experts” on the scale of seismicity,

was totally disrespectable and uncalled-for.

Coun Green was merely pointing out during an important debate that using the term earthquakes is very unhelpful as it suggest the effects were far greater than they were.

There was no twisting of the terminology, as your Opinion suggests – and thankfully members agreed and voted against a motion calling for fracking to be suspended, which could have been damaging to this new industry.

I work in the offshore gas and renewables industry and being local to the Cuadrilla shale gas site I have taken great interest in the developments there. The reaction from some people amazes me. We rely on gas so much - including almost half our electricity. But people don’t realise how much gas we import - almost half of the gas we use is from abroad.

In Norway I have seen first hand the huge quantities we import from them and also the enormous benefits it brings to everyone in Norway.

Last summer I was working in Egypt on a gas project and found out a percentage of the gas produced there was being shipped to the UK which not only carries with it the environmental implications, greenhouse gases emitted by liquifying and transportation but also financially as these cargos are expensive and the prices being reflected in our energy bills.

As for renewable energy I have been involved in installing offshore wind turbines and yes it gives the UK greater energy capacity. But only when the wind blows. People need to understand even if the UK was covered and ringed in wind turbines they could be stood idle for days or even weeks sometimes, producing nothing; and gas always seems to be the go-to energy source capable to react quickly and produce when required.

As for monitoring seismic events, if onshore wind turbines had to work within the seismic traffic light system onshore shale gas adheres to not one wind turbine would get installed.

Everyone should pull together and support UK onshore gas which will stop the ever increasing energy bill rises due to importing so much gas which we all use, and stop making assumptions but leaving it to the highly qualified independent regulators to monitor these sites.

Simon Hinks

Kirkham

It was a historic move by our county councillors to vote against a motion calling for fracking at Preston New Road to be suspended.

Instead of supporting a Labour-led call for a public inquiry into the levels of earth tremors – they instead expressed the council’s appreciation for the highly detailed and professional monitoring of Cuadrilla’s exploration site by its officers and the specialist bodies that have made it the most closely supervised such site in Europe.

No such fanfare in The Gazette of course – just some disparaging comments from Andy Sykes, in Monday’s Opinion column.

His flippant side swipe was aimed at Coun Michael Green who explained to fellow members the scale of seismicity, pointing out quite rightly that using the term earthquakes is unhelpful as it suggest the impacts are much greater.

As Cabinet member for economic development and environment, and proposer of the Tory amendment, he was fully conversant with the geological facts and had no need to “go away and check with the experts”.

There are no “two sides to an argument” in using the correct terminology to maintain their view is a correct one? Just scientific fact.

Perhaps, if a previous proposal from Cuadrilla to re-open a previous drill well, place some seismic recording devices therein, close the well, and then monitor the natural background activity of the area, had been accepted, we would now know what is a ‘natural’ tremor or a fracking-induced tremor.

That proposal was rejected and so we now have continual over-reaction to the minor tremor reports from the independent seismic monitors.

I would suggest a bit more respect and a bit less biased reporting is required in future.

Frank McLaughlin

Lytham

Editor’s note: Thank-you to both Mr Hinks and Mr McLaughlin for their letters. When we have reported seismic activity at Preston New Road, we have used the terminology described by the British Geological Survey.

On its website it says: “Since hydraulic fracturing operations started at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, some earthquakes have been detected close to the area of operations.”

We cover opinions from both pro-frackers and anti-frackers in our coverage.

The fact that we receive an equal amount of complaints of alleged bias from both sides of the argument suggests to us that our reporting is both fair and balanced.

Don’t forget the great munchkins

I agree wholeheartedly with Claire Lark’s glowing review of The Wizard of Oz at the Opera House but she failed to mention the munchkins.

On the night I saw it, the group of children portraying the inhabitants of Munchkinland were just wonderful. It was so good to see such a talented group of young people on stage. I was really hoping for a quick encore of the Yellow Brick Road at the curtain call - that really would have sent everyone out into the night singing.

Angela Blanding

Blackpool