Shale, the LCC and reality

  • Democracy at work in Lancashire
  • Shale development is good for the environment
  • British technology can do this safely

Bill Butterworth 1 July 15

Dad drilling 2

Dairy grass land onto which the cuttings and spent fluids from deep drilling had been spread using the same British clean technology as culd be used in he Lancashire development of shale.

Spent fluids on pasture re-grown + foot

The same grassland some months later, ready for cutting for silage for the farm’s dairy cattle. By the way, the drilling fluid used starch and a natural clay.  By the way, this particular exercise spread 4500 tonnes of cuttings and spent drilling fluids to proximity farm land without talking trucks on the road.  That is 225 trucks in and 225 trucks out NOT on the road.  Tell me what is good for the environment.

We all should and must respect the rule of our elected governing bodies – even if and when they are wrong.  The Lancashire Count Council (LCC) has, in the last few days, rejected an application to develop a commercial shale gas well in their area of responsibility.  We must respect that even though they were wrong to do so and I will tell you why.  They bowed to un-informed, ignorant pressure groups who claim to protect the environment and who know little or nothing about what they claim.  That bowing to pressure from a minority pressure group was irresponsible and cowardly.

No one who is informed and/or has some common sense would argue that shale gas, or any other development, is without risk.  Everything in this world, everything, has risks.  That includes doing nothing. That is what the elected Members of the Planning Committee of the LCC did – they avoided the decision and that has two consequences.  Firstly, it reinforced uninformed opposition and that will make changing their minds later (which they will have to do) much more controversial.  Secondly, they have done something which will damage the environment.

There is no doubt that we really ought to be switching to “renewable” energy.  The trouble with that is that most renewable energy is, currently, not sustainable and actually bad for the environment – we will never get out of them the energy we put in.  These technologies will get more efficient but that will take time and then it will take time to build up the supply.  It will take too long. If we care about the environment, then we need to be doing something in the meantime and that is shale because shale is a “transition” energy form.  It will buy us time and damage the environment less in the short run than using the alternatives.  It will get us off the badly polluting fuels sooner.

China will dash for shale gas and that will stop them burning so much brown coal.  Shale gas is the least of all the hydrocarbon fuels in terms of pollution.  True it produces Carbon dioxide when it is used as a fuel, but not much else.  So it is the least of the evils and will buy us time to limit population growth and develop new forms of clean energy.

Why should we, in the UK, do it?  Well, because we have the best, cleanest and safest technology available anywhere in the world.

I do not live any more in Lancashire but regard myself as of that breed.  Shame on you the Members of that Planning Committee for not doing your homework and bowing to uniformed, minority pressure groups.

Bill Butterworth, Chartered Environmentalist and Member of the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists