Viewpoint: Why Catholics stand against fracking in Lancashire

  • Bob Turner

Laudato Si' - Campaigners had a clear message for Cuadrilla on Feast of St Francis last year.

Laudato Si' - Campaigners had a clear message for Cuadrilla on Feast of St Francis last year.

Following the announcement - on the last day of Parliament before summer - that Fracking at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire has been given the final go-ahead by the Government, I would like to outline a few points to Claire Perry our Energy and Clean Growth Minister.

Fracking is one of the dirtiest methods of extracting fossil fuels. It's production of gas would not be compatible with the targets to cut fossil fuel use required to tackle climate change. The health hazards and pollution of water resources are well documented and the fear of earthquakes is an unknown quantity not to be ignored. It will lead to damaging development in the countryside and hit house prices.

It is estimated it would require 6000 wells to replace 50% of the UK's gas imports over a 15 year period. The pipelines and the millions of extra lorry movements up and down country roads, would bring excessive pollution and serious disruption to large parts of the country. The impact of one single well has been significant in North Yorkshire, where impacts from noise, traffic and noxious smells are reported . It has been said that some local businesses have closed and the community is divided. The combined impact of over 6,000 wells would be wide-ranging and severe…. a far cry from the wonderful opportunities that are laid out in Cuadrilla's glossy brochure.

Cuadrilla, now granted the licence to frack at Preston New Road in September, is one of a group of fracking companies of which INEOS is the major player. INEOS produces Ethane from the fracked gas….. a long and dirty process. Ethane is the base material for plastics used in packaging…. the same plastics which we are allegedly trying to reduce !.... However INEOS is building bigger factories to produce more and more . The owner has just been revealed as the richest man in the UK with his wealth more than tripling in the last 12 months and he recently received a knighthood in the queen's birthday honours list.

Carroll Muffett, president of the US Centre for International Environmental Law, states that "Around 99% of the feedstock for plastics is fossil fuels ……..there is a deep and pervasive relationship between oil and gas companies and plastics."

Earlier this month Ms Perry's department published The 2018 International Climate Finance (ICF) results. These show the beneficial impact UK investments can have in tackling climate change and in protecting vulnerable people. The ICF has supported 47 million people to cope with the effects of climate change and has provided 17 million people with improved access to clean energy. There is a contradiction here. We have done wonders elsewhere in the world but we appear to be taking a backward step with our responsibilities on home soil.

Liz Hutchins, Friends of the Earth's Director of Campaigns, said it had taken seven years for the Fracking industry to reach the point it had, during which time Renewable Energy sources had gone from supplying one tenth of the UK's electricity to a third.

We have urgent problems to tackle, as highlighted by Pope Francis in his Encyclical, Laudato Si. Fossil fuels must stay in the ground and we need to stop our binge on single use plastic as soon as possible…. or the future is very bleak for our grandchildren and their children.

In the newly released parish resource film Global Healing Bishop John Arnold is asking us to take practical action in many different ways including nagging our politicians.

See: [12min 40sec]


Tags: Fracking, Claire Perry, Lancashire, Bishop John Arnold, Cuadrilla

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