North Yorkshire County Council has approved plans to extract shale gas in Ryedale. It is a decision that will bring economic growth and prosperity, cheaper energy, exciting new engineering prospects, and a frack load of jobs.
But not everyone is happy about it. As the councillors gathered to decide whether or not to go ahead with the plans, hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside. They argued that it would devastate the area and harm Ryedale’s tourism industry. They’re concerned about noise, trees and busier roads. But it seems they aren’t bothered about the worryingly high energy prices in the UK, or the fact that some pensioners are forced to choose between heating and eating during particularly cold winters.
In Conservative Party heartland, these misanthropic environmentalists are displaying truly conservative politics. They are saying No to growth and reducing the cost of living – they would rather conserve untouched green land than produce more economic prosperity. As has already happened in the US, a shale-gas revolution could produce an energy boom, lowering prices and reducing emissions. But this opportunity is being scuppered by NIMBYists and environmentalists.
Beyond blighting the landscape with wells and machinery, anti-fracking protesters also claim that fracking will cause earthquakes (no, really) and contaminate the water supply. None of this is true. First of all, tremors resulting from fracking in the UK have never risen above 2.3 on the Richter scale. That is less than five times the level of a slamming door or a passing bus – hardly the earth-splitting ruptures that environmentalists warn us about. And the risk of water contamination is minimal. Since 2005, 137,000 fracking wells have been drilled in the US, and just a few have led to contaminated water supplies. And, considering that we have stronger water regulations in the UK, it’s unlikely that this will ever be an issue here.
What’s more, if the protesters really do care about the environment, then they should fully support fracking. In 2014, the International Panel on Climate Change admitted that US reductions in CO2 emissions were the result of the introduction of fracking. More fracking means less coal. In many ways, it’s the environmentally friendly choice.