I hope I don’t pretend to have expertise on everything. On fracking I have none. My entirely amateur views on the subject are that the major risk appears to be pollution of aquifers. The UK seems too seismically stable for earthquakes or volcanoes to be a serious concern. I am not terribly worried about the local environmental consequences of the installations – human activity of all kinds detracts from the natural environment in a sense. This spot was doubtless a great deal more pleasing aesthetically before Dundee was built upon it. But then Dundee has a great deal more human utility.
It is also plain to me that humans are going to have to burn fossil fuels for a while yet, despite the very obvious fact that we also need to put much more energy and resource into developing renewable alternatives.
So I am not opposed to fracking in principle, which I know will upset some people. But nor can I understand the hurry. Fracking is being undertaken on a very large scale in the United States and elsewhere. Onshore fracking is not actually a new technology at all, but its widespread use is new. Given concerns especially about the effects on underground water supplies, why don’t we just wait for thirty years and see how it turns out elsewhere? That should give time for a good accumulation of evidence.
The hydrocarbons are not going anywhere – they will still be there in thirty years time and I predict will be a good deal more valuable. So my entirely unprofound, non-fundamentalist and dully pragmatic view on fracking is that there should be a thirty year moratorium. Then we can think about it.