South Lakes fracking threat raises alarm

FRACKING fears have been raised in South Lakeland following the release of a report which suggests the area could be exploited for shale gas.

The controversial drilling process could be carried out in the district and neighbouring north Lancashire under Government plans revealed in the major energy report.

But within hours of its publication, fierce local oppostion began to mount against the prospect of fracking across a swathe of South Lakeland from Levens to Kirkby Lonsdale.

Concerns include damage to the area’s scenic landscape and ecology, fears over potential earthquakes and the damaging effect on house prices.

The document published by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) says licences for shale gas exploration around the country will be awarded next summer.

As many as 2,880 wells could eventually be drilled nationally, creating up to 32,000 jobs.

Although the report says South Lakeland and north Lancashire are both ‘under consideration’ for shale gas exploitation, it is unclear how many wells could be drilled in the area.

Key shale gas supporter David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, claimed the industry could bring 1,700 jobs to his constituency alone and would boost the area’s economy by millions of pounds.

“There is more shale gas underneath us in this area than there is anywhere in Britain,” said Mr Morris. “For us not to explore tapping into this defies belief.”

However, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said: “I am vehemently opposed to fracking anywhere, but certainly in South Lakeland where we have some of the most important landscape in the country.

“To frack for shale gas beneath the district is unthinkable and unacceptable. I’m also concerned about the potential geological impact. We have naturally occuring earthquakes already and no-one knows what the additonal threats will be from fracking.”

Friends of the Lake District were also worried about the impacts on the landscape and natural environment.

Planning officer Kate Willshaw said: “We would be concerned about the associated landscape, transport, water use and pollution issues which fracking operations bring with them.

“The Arnside and Silverdale area which has been identified in this document as having gas potential is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and much of it is also protected by Site of Special Scientific Interest designation. We consider that this would be a highly inappropriate place to undertake fracking.”

Retired UK diplomat Sir Christopher Audland, of Ackenthwaite, who was the European Economic Community’s Director-General for Energy in the 1970s, said: “I don’t think we have been told enough about the potential harm fracking for shale gas will do to the ecology and the landscape.”

Local climate change campaigners said the process should only be used as an ‘extreme measure’.

South Lakeland Action on Climate Change (SLACC) trustee Chris Rowley said: “It is not necessary now, it should be used when there is nothing left.”

Fellow SLACC member Sue Walley said South Lakes protestors would be travelling to Barton Moss near Manchester today (Thursday) to oppose exploration.

She said: “It risks arrests but if we do not do anything now what will we say to future generations? People need to stop it before it starts.”

The Kendal-based renowned climate change expert Mike Berners-Lee said the area needed fracking ‘like a hole in the head’.

“If there was a strong global deal to limit the total amount of fossil fuels coming out of the ground we could argue the case for it being better than coal. But we are miles away from that reality.

“Locally, it might create jobs but these are nothing compared to those from other energy options. And any compensation paid would be offset by the negative impact on house prices.”

Academic and natural history expert Dr Kent Brookes, of Kendal, said most reactions to fracking were ‘emotional rather than rational’.

“I am not particularly worried by the prospect of fracking in the Milnthorpe-Kirby Lonsdale area, after all, we have to do something to keep the lights on.

“Drilling for shale gas does have some risks, but the much feared earthquakes are about the same as if a bus passes close to your house. The ‘chemicals’ used in the water are quite benign, much like washing-up liquid, while the possibility of drinking water contamination is very slight and can be prevented by proper design.

“The adverse effects of fracking have been greatly exaggerated by ill-informed fanatics and the disturbance caused by drilling and fracking is temporary, unlike the effects of massive building on the natural world.”

Comments (8)

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2:23pm Thu 19 Dec 13

Kendal Jock says...

@ Dr Kent Brookes. Well said! Thank goodness someone talking sense at last. However! our Tim would have the whole country covered by the very expensive, useless, ugly wind turbines.
@ Dr Kent Brookes. Well said! Thank goodness someone talking sense at last. However! our Tim would have the whole country covered by the very expensive, useless, ugly wind turbines. Kendal Jock

3:49pm Thu 19 Dec 13

johnwalker1000 says...

If only the WG could get the title correct....” South Lakes...” so when did Levens/Kirbky Lonsdale/Arnside/Sil
verdale (all mentioned) join the Lake District? South Lakeland would be the correct starting wording for the title NOT South Lakes.
If only the WG could get the title correct....” South Lakes...” so when did Levens/Kirbky Lonsdale/Arnside/Sil verdale (all mentioned) join the Lake District? South Lakeland would be the correct starting wording for the title NOT South Lakes. johnwalker1000

6:46pm Thu 19 Dec 13

furthersouth says...

the should keep the NIMBYS busy over the Xmas period. Tell them it's going to snow soon also. that should rile them some more. The solution is simple, buy the land they are considering for fracking.
the should keep the NIMBYS busy over the Xmas period. Tell them it's going to snow soon also. that should rile them some more. The solution is simple, buy the land they are considering for fracking. furthersouth

8:22pm Thu 19 Dec 13

Kendmoor says...

Johnwalker, You're honestly getting annoyed about the use of "South Lakes" as opposed to "South Lakeland"?
If the article were claiming the places were in the **Lake District National Park**, then fair enough...but it's not it just says "South Lakes"
Hop on the M6 on the way into Cumbria and there is a nice brown sign that clearly states "Welcome To Cumbria - The Lake District".

But congratulations on starting a good debate about the articles subject matter. ;)
Johnwalker, You're honestly getting annoyed about the use of "South Lakes" as opposed to "South Lakeland"? If the article were claiming the places were in the **Lake District National Park**, then fair enough...but it's not it just says "South Lakes" Hop on the M6 on the way into Cumbria and there is a nice brown sign that clearly states "Welcome To Cumbria - The Lake District". But congratulations on starting a good debate about the articles subject matter. ;) Kendmoor

12:38pm Fri 20 Dec 13

JimTraficantforPresident says...

"“To frack for shale gas beneath the district is unthinkable and unacceptable. I’m also concerned about the potential geological impact. We have naturally occuring earthquakes already and no-one knows what the additonal threats will be from fracking.”"

Why is it "unthinkable and unacceptable" Tim ? We've been digging all sorts of stuff out from beneath the district for hundreds of years.

"No-one knows what the additional threats will be" ? Ask the Americans. I think they are additional jobs and cheaper production of gas.

"We have naturally occuring earthquakes already and no-one knows what the additonal threats will be from fracking."

As John McEnroe would say, "You cannot be serious".

There is a moth-balled Gas power station at Roosecote. Just think what fracking, plus a gas pipeline to Roosecote would do for employment prospects in the area. And I mean QUALITY employment as in well paid.
"“To frack for shale gas beneath the district is unthinkable and unacceptable. I’m also concerned about the potential geological impact. We have naturally occuring earthquakes already and no-one knows what the additonal threats will be from fracking.”" Why is it "unthinkable and unacceptable" Tim ? We've been digging all sorts of stuff out from beneath the district for hundreds of years. "No-one knows what the additional threats will be" ? Ask the Americans. I think they are additional jobs and cheaper production of gas. "We have naturally occuring earthquakes already and no-one knows what the additonal threats will be from fracking." As John McEnroe would say, "You cannot be serious". There is a moth-balled Gas power station at Roosecote. Just think what fracking, plus a gas pipeline to Roosecote would do for employment prospects in the area. And I mean QUALITY employment as in well paid. JimTraficantforPresident

7:46pm Fri 20 Dec 13

jazzactivist says...

Is it worth all that disruption and danger to the environment and ourselves just so that we can carry on using gas though? The idea that fracking will create cheaper gas is unlikely, as the same companies will be selling it.

And don't think that fracking is not going to affect other matters and create extra costs to us all either - friends of mine in different parts of the country, who thought they owned the freehold on their homes, have been sent letters by traditional big landowners claiming the mineral rights under their houses and notifying them of their right to extract. If homeowners want to avoid this they have to pay x large amount to the owner of the mineral rights. Apparently it's legal too!

Best not to allow it. We're resourceful people, and I'm sure we will all manage OK and switch to another source of heating and cooking when the current gas supply runs out. It would help if the government supported the invention of cleaner, more environmentally harmonious forms of energy.
Is it worth all that disruption and danger to the environment and ourselves just so that we can carry on using gas though? The idea that fracking will create cheaper gas is unlikely, as the same companies will be selling it. And don't think that fracking is not going to affect other matters and create extra costs to us all either - friends of mine in different parts of the country, who thought they owned the freehold on their homes, have been sent letters by traditional big landowners claiming the mineral rights under their houses and notifying them of their right to extract. If homeowners want to avoid this they have to pay x large amount to the owner of the mineral rights. Apparently it's legal too! Best not to allow it. We're resourceful people, and I'm sure we will all manage OK and switch to another source of heating and cooking when the current gas supply runs out. It would help if the government supported the invention of cleaner, more environmentally harmonious forms of energy. jazzactivist

11:01pm Fri 20 Dec 13

fourcandles says...

"Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said: “I am vehemently opposed to fracking anywhere, but certainly in South Lakeland where we have some of the most important landscape in the country."

So suddenly Tim Farron cares about our local landscape? He hasn't shown much opposition to it being covered with new houses and windfarms. I wonder if its because its now on his own doorstep. Mr Farron joins the nimbys. I have an ironic smile.
"Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said: “I am vehemently opposed to fracking anywhere, but certainly in South Lakeland where we have some of the most important landscape in the country." So suddenly Tim Farron cares about our local landscape? He hasn't shown much opposition to it being covered with new houses and windfarms. I wonder if its because its now on his own doorstep. Mr Farron joins the nimbys. I have an ironic smile. fourcandles

11:21pm Sun 22 Dec 13

avidwalker says...

I decided to read up on fracking as I didn't know much about it. Living in the local area and being an avid walker, I was interested to know what impact it would have on the local scenery. In the Lune valley we can see a couple of windfarms on the horizon and I have become accustomed to them and they are not as bad as I would once have imagined. However, when I began to look into it, rather than my initial concerns for the impact of fracking on the landscape, which I still have - I am now more concerned by what I ended up reading about potential health issues such as the danger of contamination of drinking water....whilst it might be good for the economy and provide some jobs - I can't help thinking of long term problems that we could be left with - is it worth it?
I decided to read up on fracking as I didn't know much about it. Living in the local area and being an avid walker, I was interested to know what impact it would have on the local scenery. In the Lune valley we can see a couple of windfarms on the horizon and I have become accustomed to them and they are not as bad as I would once have imagined. However, when I began to look into it, rather than my initial concerns for the impact of fracking on the landscape, which I still have - I am now more concerned by what I ended up reading about potential health issues such as the danger of contamination of drinking water....whilst it might be good for the economy and provide some jobs - I can't help thinking of long term problems that we could be left with - is it worth it? avidwalker

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