New fracking push by Ineos

Ineos is using the Brexit uncertainty to make a new push for fracking in Scotland.

Their CEO has called for an overhaul of UK energy policy and for manufacturing to be placed at the heart of the economy as Britain faces up to life on the outside of the European Union (EU). He urged Scottish ministers to review its current moratorium on granting consents for fracking in Scotland, declaring that industry would be transformed if companies such as Ineos were free to tap into indigenous shale resources.

This follows Ineos’s decision to send their fracking team down south, much to the joy of campaigners here, but less so in Lancashire and Yorkshire. This is partly to take advantage of the more favourable policy position and because the Scottish government’s line appeared to harden when the new energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said he was “deeply sceptical” of proposals to exploit shale gas reserves beneath the ground.

The fracking industry has spent years watching lengthy slumps in both international gas prices and public support for the technology. These trends aren’t about to turn around quickly despite the planning decision in North Yorkshire. As Howard Rogers from the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies puts it, “there could not be a worse time to embark on challenging gas projects.”

The UK Government would like to emulate the US shale bonanza, however, the UK has no equivalent to the plains of the USA. Fracking in the UK will be done near populations, if not right under people’s houses. The USA is also a growing source of evidence on the worrying economics of fast-depleting shale wells – not to mention flammable water and other industry misbehaviour. The climate impact of shale may be far higher than first suspected.

It’s also not cost free for the taxpayer. New figures reveal that capital allowances for fracking infrastructure will cost the UK taxpayer £25 million.

Few would dispute that the UK economy needs to be rebalanced with a shift from services to manufacturing. However, fracking isn’t the way to do it.

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