Hydraulic fracturing or fracking has been receiving a lot of attention in the media lately. However, this method of extracting natural gas and oil from shale rock isn’t a new concept. Actually, fracking has been used commercially for 65 years. More recently, these cutting-edge technologies have become more and more common.
This is mostly due to using fracking as a method for gaining access to hard to reach gas. However, there are strong opinions that these methods are harmful to the environment. Not only are there possible connections between fracking and earthquakes but also many cases of water reservoirs becoming toxic due to gas seepage. Additionally, because of the process in which fracking is done, huge amounts of water are required to extract the gas from the shale rock.
As of yet, there has not been any actual fracking done in the UK. However, exploratory projects have started to see if fracking could be a viable method for extracting the underground gas. Large areas of underground reserves of shale gas have been identified across the UK and particularly in northern England.
Despite the environmental damage, North America is enjoying big benefits from fracking. Thousands of jobs have been created to meet the demand for fracking, as well as an increase in supply has caused petrol prices to drop.
Much of the resistance facing fracking stems from concerns for the environment. Tests have shown that fracking can cause earth tremors and possibly even earthquakes. Additionally, there is the risk that potentially carcinogenic chemicals, that are used in fracking processes, could escape and contaminate groundwater around the site. Moreover, environmentalists claim that fracking is a step in the wrong direction towards clean sustainable energy resources.
The Prime Minister of the UK has voiced his support for fracking. “I want us to get on board this change that is doing so much good and bringing so much benefit to North America. I want us to benefit from it here as well.”
The Prime Minister has been met with large protest due to fear that national parks will become destroyed by the aftermath of fracking. MPs in January have said that they will ban any fracking in national parks.
In December however, MPs flipped and voted to allow for fracking to be done at 1,200m below national parks, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, and World Heritage Sites.