We don’t need fracking. It’s dirty energy, causes considerable damage to the environment, endangers water supplies and contributes to global warming. As I write, Quadrilla has had to halt its fracking for investigations after around ten seismic events were recorded this morning, all small but a pointer to the damage that is being caused.  The fracking industry response is to call these minor earthquakes insignificant and is lobbying for the thresholds of at which fracking is temporarily halted to be raised.

The government backs fracking for at least two reasons. The first is short-sighted greedby them and their supporters, but the argument they more openly give is one of energy security, that if we can produce more of our own gas we would not be reliant on Russia, who could threaten to cut our our supplies.

This is perhaps a good argument for cutting our reliance on gas, and the best way to do this is by cutting our energy use, insisting that all new build properties and conversions have high energy efficiency. There needs to be more help for increasing energy efficiency of older buildings and an expansion of varioius government schemes.

Increasingly energy is coming from renewable generation, with both solar and wind playing a large part. Many now benefit from cheap electricity from solar panels, but government cuts in the feed-in tariffs which subsidised solar panels has decimated the solar installation industry.

Solar panels are now much cheaper and battery storage systems now available make more sense than supplying electricity at low cost (and there will be no feed-in tariff for new installations from April 2019) to the grid. Hopefully better (and cheaper) battery systems will make many more homes, especially new energy efficient properties, essentially independent of the grid, at least for much of the year.

The cheapest source of electricity is now onshore wind turbines, and the government should be backing and expansion in these rather than halting them and encouraging fracking. Fortunately there tends to be more wind at times in the year when solar generation is lower and reliance on both, along with other minor renewable sources should leave only a very limited emergency role for gas and other carbon fuels.

So we don’t need fracking, and we certainly don’t want the kind of problems it will cause, and many have been protesting against it at various sites across the country, but particularly in Lancashire, where the fight against the frackers has been led by a number of remarkable women, the Nanas from Nanashire, who have devoted much of their lives to stopping it.

Unfortunately, despite their long and valiant efforts – and Lancashire County Council’s refusal to allow it (also doubtless a result of the campaigns), local democracy was over-ruled by the government, and a couple of months after this protest in London, fracking began at the site near Blackpool.  And so have the earthquakes.

Local opposition across the country to fracking sites continues to grow, and a number of local authorities have come out against it. The response of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been to propose to change the planning rules to make fracking easier, seen by many as an attack on democracy. Many of those taking part in the protest wore  suffragette costumes to mark the 100th anniversary of women first getting the vote and to challenge Parliament now to make voting actually mean something.

After the rally in Parliament Square, there was a march around the square and then on to the nearby BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy )  where campaigners soon moved onto the open area under cover at the front of the building where they could see people working inside the ministry, some of whom closed their blinds. The protesters shouted loudly and sang anti-fracking songs fro some time before leaving.

More on My London Diary:

100Women against fracking
100Women protest at BEIS

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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