Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 8 August 2013


To frack or not to frack, that is the question. This is becoming one of the big debates of our generation.

What is fracking? Hydraulic fracturing (to give it it's real name) is the fracturing of rock by a pressurised liquid that creates a pathway through rock that enables oil and gas which would previously have been inaccessible to come to the surface to be exploited. This could almost overnight provide substantial new sources of home-produced energy.

There are genuine concerns about the environmental impact of this process, especially the risk of contaminating below ground water systems.  Naturally, we cannot afford to get this one wrong and create an environmental disaster that spirals out of control.  If we ruin this planet, it is unlikely we will be given another.

But the potential benefits of fracking are substantial. As we all know, after 30+ years the reserves of oil and gas from the North Sea are dwindling fast.  We now import much of our fossil fuel energy from abroad, typically from unstable countries like Nigeria and Russia meaning that concerns over consistency of supply are very real. Energy security is now an urgent priority for the UK.
It would be unacceptable for the citizens of our country to turn on the light switch and for nothing to happen. It is not just our homes and workplaces, but also hospitals and nursing homes.

We have been slow to replace our tired bank of nuclear energy generators although this is now in hand. Renewable energy, no matter how admirable, will not fill the gap between supply and demand for decades. Besides, not many of us want to plaster the countryside with wind turbines if there are better options available. Whether we like it or not, we will have to rely upon energy from fossil fuel for many years to come and fracking might be one of the ways to exploit gas and oil reserves that previously eluded us.

Currently, the government in the UK is permitting the use of fracking under very strict environmental regulations. Exploration is beginning to take place throughout the UK. It is controversial and there will be understandable protests wherever such activity is proposed.

There is a serious debate to be had. Can we allow a future generation to run short of power? Is fracking too environmentally hazardous? What are the realistic alternatives to keep the lights on?

This contentious debate is going to run and run.

posted by Gary @ 13:50