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« Predictions | Main | Green-not-so-peaceful - Josh 310 »

A big day for shale gas

Today sees Parliament consider an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill that would introduce a moratorium on unconventional gas wells in the UK. To coincide with the vote, the Environmental Audit Committee has produced one of its normal sham reports saying that industrial activity will all end in disaster, based as always on a series of interviews with environmentalists and pretty much nobody else. In fact, as Emily Gosden in the Telegraph amusingly notes, they have outdone themselves today:

The EAC also cites evidence from Paul Mobbs, a self-described “freelance campaigner, activist, environmental consultant, author, lecturer and engineer” and former “electrohippie”, who runs a “dysorganisation” called the ‘Free Range Activism Website’.

It's good to know that the views of the electrohippies are not being overlooked.

I gather that the commmittee's chairman Joan Whalley has been all over the BBC this morning, no doubt given the usual free pass by the eco-nutters who present programmes for the corporation.

I'll update this page throughout the day as news comes in.


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Reader Comments (89)

She was on the Today programme insisting that climate change was so important that fracking should not proceed. She seemed unable to grasp that renewable energy alone would not keep the lights on and a backup was needed. We needed to ensure secure and low cost supplies of gas for this reason.

She thought we could burn gas as a last resort if we captured the carbon, glossing over the fact that carbon capture does not exist .She is obviously a true believer, unable to employ common sense or logic.

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Note the members of the EAC:
Member Party
Joan Walley (Chair) Labour
Peter Aldous Conservative
Neil Carmichael Conservative
Martin Caton Labour
Katy Clark Labour
Zac Goldsmith Conservative
Mike Kane Labour
Mark Lazarowicz Labour (Co-op)
Caroline Lucas Green
Caroline Nokes Conservative
Dr Matthew Offord Conservative
Dan Rogerson Liberal Democrat
Mrs Caroline Spelman Conservative
Mr Mark Spencer Conservative
Dr Alan Whitehead Labour
Simon Wright Liberal Democrat

The question is: what engineering/scientific/industry qualifications/experience do these members have?

Answers on back of a stamp please.

Example at random, Dr Alan Whitehead, go About Alan Whitehead

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:20 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I heard the Farming Today item. To be fair, this programme usually invites balancing views, but this time they did not and Joan Whalley had free rein to spout nonsense without opposition.
I cannot help feeling that if the government put the same energy into fracking as they do to cover the countryside in houses and wind turbines there would be wells in operation now.

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan Wilson

Unsure about what an electrohippy does, I took a look at an electrohippy collective website.
Smashing shop window fronts in Seattle seems to be considered one of their greatest achievments, though some 1970's football hooligans could make similar claims.

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Considering that the actual fracturing process is very brief (under 1 second in duration), I am not understanding why, once it is in production, a well that has been enhanced by fracturing is any different from any other production well. As long as the well casing has not been breached, the result is exactly like any other conventional well once it goes into production.

They seem to act as if they believe that "fracking" is some sort of ongoing process that occurs for the life of the well, or something.

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered Commentercrosspatch

I was under the impression that "peer-review" was the gold standard in climate science.
So Ms Whalley can explain why the Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association (which as we all know was nothing of the sort) gets to be quoted and your evidence doesn't.
And perhaps Andrew Neil would like to have the pair of you on the Daily Politics. I suggest someone ring him and suggest it

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:27 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Joan Wally.....

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Don't hold your breath. I watched the papers review last night on both SKY and BBC world last night, when the lack of understanding on this issue and anything to do with AGW was on show. However, remember that every party will have a green tinge in coming months and the collapse in oil prices makes shale less of a viable option in the short term. Natalie Bennett's self immolation yesterday by unwisely parading her manifesto in front of the only objective journalist on mainstream television, Andrew Neil - may well have placed a modicum of doubt in MPs minds that the Greens are simply bonkers.

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefor Jones

Cameron needs to follow Obama, the Greens favourite politician, who preaches CAGW yet wholeheartedly supports fracking.

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Jamesp posted the following link on unthreaded:-

Marcellus: U.K. may be out of natural gas by April

" January 20th, 2015 10:51am

Even though this winter has provided areas around the world with above-normal temperatures, serious concerns regarding the United Kingdom’s natural gas supply have arisen.

According to Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), the U.K.’s natural gas storage has hit its lowest level since 2011. As of January 16th, the storage unit’s natural gas inventory was at 3.34 billion cubic meters. Some are fearing a repeat of winter 2012-2013 when freezing air and a higher demand for heat almost emptied the entire natural gas storage reserve.

According to Bloomberg, these events helped increase natural gas prices in the U.K. On January 16th, the February U.K. natural gas contract price was 45.75 pence a therm, equivalent to $7.13 per million British thermal units, reported ICE Futures Europe.


It would appear our Parliamentarians file away such information as "not wanted on voyage"

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:49 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Oil & Gas UK has issues a response headed: "Ill-informed political battle over fracking is threatening one of the UK’s most vital industries"

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Drake

Oil & Gas UK has issues a response headed: "Ill-informed political battle over fracking is threatening one of the UK’s most vital industries"

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Drake

This is a blog post by a geologist who was part of a group which gave evidence to the Wally's Committee:

'The CCS inquiry received 38 written submissions. It called 18 witnesses to give oral evidence, over a period of 3 months, starting several months after the written submissions had been received. The final report was released more than 3 months after the final session of oral evidence.

In contrast, the EAC fracking report received 71 written submissions. Nevertheless, it only called 8 witnesses to give oral evidence, and did so only 2 weeks after the written evidence had been gathered. The final report has been released only 1 week after the evidence sessions.

The speed of this release suggests to me that the EAC went into this inquiry having already decided on their course of action - a call for a moratorium - and that they have not properly considered the evidence in front of them, nor sought a proper breadth of representation from their oral witnesses.'

The Wally is shroud waving.

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

I turned off after some wally being interviewed referred to the future energy mix as "heavily subsidised nuclear, and renewables". (Oxford comma inserted deliberately) What she should have said, to be honest and truthful (sorry, naiive, I know) would have been "subsidised nuclear and economically suicidally subsidised renewables"
As I said, I had to turn off, 'cos I was driving to work, and one of our notices says "arrive safe, work safe, leave safe" and I was in danger of breaking the first.

Jan 26, 2015 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimonJ

Oh my god, I've just looked up the cv of the wally being interviewed, Clearly I must bow down before someone far more qualified than I (BTech, Aeronautical Engineering & Design, CEng, MRAeS) to judge the safety of engineering processes.
"At the University of Hull, she gained a BA in Social Administration. From the University College of Wales, Swansea, she gained a Diploma in Community Work Development. From 1970-3, she worked on an Alcoholics Recovery Project. From 1974-8, she was a Local Government Officer for Swansea City Council. She worked for Wandsworth Council from 1978-9. From 1979-82, she was a Development Officer for NACRO."
And we are governed by these F****g W****s!!!!

Jan 26, 2015 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimonJ

I see that Walley is standing down at the May elections.
I also note her strong (UNISON) union connections. I'll bet she would be a strong supporter of the miners....

Jan 26, 2015 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

I've been reading the comments. My god how the young and uneducated have been fooled. One idiot thinks that solar will be fine, another that we should reduce our population and hence our consumption to meet the level of green energy supply.
I feel for you brits. Bad times are coming unless you do what the greeks have done and throw out the clowns.

Jan 26, 2015 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered Commenter

Trefor Jones

I caught a little of that interview. Enough to scream OMG. She is a total loon. Absolutely bonkers and Neil led her by the nose to the chopping block. What a clown. BUT you are being governed by these dangerous idiots.

Jan 26, 2015 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

I think readers should review many episodes of Yes Minister, to realise that one never has a public enquiry unless the outcome is known beforehand, & never talk to people eminently qualified to talk about the subject matter in hand, talk to eminently unqualified people instead, thus ensuring a balanced outcome is arrived at!? And it's getting worse!

Jan 26, 2015 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

I don't see any evidence of the government haste that she is concerned about, nor does she seem to realise that we already had the moratorium she demands - 2 sodding years of it - with all the due and intensely slow deliberation she now claims is necessary again.

I'd would have been nice if she even listened to the points made by the INEOs spokesman on 'Today', Gas is required whatever we do, including as backup for windmills, but we are heading off a cliff-edge with coal and nuclear shutting down soon and it is nearly too damn late to avoid it. A bit more haste is required!

Jan 26, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

According to Emily Gosden in the Telegraph, not only did the EAC get evidence from the "electrohippy" whatever that might be, but also from an organisation called Frack Free Fife.

Never having heard of them, I had a look at their website and found that they are advertising this treat on Jan 28th for anyone with a strong stomach who lives near Grangemouth. Just look at the list of those involved..

Jan 26, 2015 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Haven't we been under a "fracking" moratorium for the last five years or so already?

"Clearly, more studies are required" ... ad infinitum.

Why do they take the views of people who are avowedly against all hydrocarbons, aka "fossil fuels" ?

They are not against shale exploitation because they care about water, or farmers, or noise, or any other pretext - they are against it because it could produce gas or oil. Fine, we heard you the first time. Your views have been noted and since you know nothing else about the actual process except what you read on activist websites, which anyone can read, you have nothing else to contribute.

Jan 26, 2015 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

Just remember, there will still be time to sell everything and move to where you won't freeze to death in the winter.

Jan 26, 2015 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

Should it be the Fact Free Balcombe Residents Association?

Presumably all the members have demonstrated their commitment by disconnecting from mains gas, and only use electricity, when renewables are producing more than a modest 5% of the national demand. They would not want their credibility questioned, by accusations of hypocracy.

Jan 26, 2015 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Ask any body over 35 name 3 things Mrs Thatcher did right.

1 The Miners Strike .She won
2 The Falklands War .She won
3 The Right to Buy Council Houses .She Won

Which one had the biggest Social impact the Right to Buy obviously.
It finally defined Working Class Tories created Essex comprehensive school Barrow Boy Yuppies and Loadamoney wiped out Micheal Foot, the trade unions ,Neal Kinnock and traditional socialism ,good work.Alf Garrnett proved correct.

Tony Blair and Mandleson then had their own Clause 4 moment.
If Cameron or Nigel Farage wants their own Right To Buy moment
give the British public Private Mineral Rights let the ordinary people own whats under their land
what is rightfully theirs.Spend their profits back into their local communities.

UK Shale and UK Private Minerals Rights cant have one without the other.

Jan 26, 2015 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Is ElectroHippy a term used to describe those who require jumpstarting of a morning, to get them out of bed, following a night/week/lifetime of combusting and evaluating organic tobacco substitutes? (In the name of pharmaceutical research, such products should NOT be tested on animals)

Jan 26, 2015 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

THE Green Party has revealed plans to replace soldiers with earnest bearded men who bang on about solar panels.

Details here.

Jan 26, 2015 at 12:10 PM | Registered Commentersteve ta

At least the Today interviewer asked Ms Whalley what it would take to make fracking acceptable. Since she is dogmatically opposed to it, it wasn't a question she could answer. The Ineos man made a good fist of his brief time allowance, mentioning the benefit to CO2 production that switching from coal would produce (clearly something that the audit committee hadn't considered), the requirement for wind backup, the 85% of households who needed gas for heating, the 20 years of US experience, etc. I don't think the Wally had any answers to those, either.

Jan 26, 2015 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

steve ta

The beauty of your link (to the Daily Mash) is that it is almost indistinguishable from the real Green manifesto! I think Ms Bennett and her 'devoted sexless windbags' have just made life a lot harder for the satirists...

Jan 26, 2015 at 12:15 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The EAC is "Licensed to ill" inform MP's, and the electorate, about science.

Jan 26, 2015 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

As was ever the case - initially most of "our" pols seem to think that "do nothing" is the safe option - trouble is ... this lot are so monumentally stupid and ill informed that they think (if that's the correct term) - that's what they're doing here....

I echo the W-T-F sentiments above. The blob PR crew must be a bit smug today.

Jan 26, 2015 at 12:23 PM | Registered Commentertomo


Thank you for repeating my link. Having roughly worked out the daily electrical output with the help of Gridwatch, I wonder if there's an equivalent site showing gas consumption?

Jan 26, 2015 at 12:28 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

I thought the way the BBC reported this was disgusting - absolutely no balance whatsoever. I saw it on their breakfast program just after 8.

Jan 26, 2015 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered Commenteralastair harris

Nick Grealy of No Hot Air blog (he needs some climate debate etiquette training) has a take on the situation here:

Jan 26, 2015 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Drake

Peter Aldous declares his interest in "the family farm" but does not declare his interest in a 12.3MW solar farm.

See here:

Proposals submitted to Waveney District Council include details for a 24.6 hectare solar park to be built on farmland to the north east of Chediston, near Halesworth.


Waveney MP Peter Aldous, whose family owns the site adjoining Bonners Farm, confirmed that Solarcentury had approached them to enquire if the land could be leased to them for the purpose of cultivating renewable energy.

He added: “We as a family had to make a decision about whether we went along with it. We decided it was appropriate to do so.”

Mr Aldous said an “option agreement” had been signed that means Solarcentury will pay for the application and if successful will take out a lease of up to 25 years on the land.

The planning has been approved

Jan 26, 2015 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Neil Carmichael declares his interest in two farm in Northumberland but does not mention the four wind turbines on the farm.

Jan 26, 2015 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Allowing the Greens to hijack the moral high ground against fracking has been a disaster for the government.

The single biggest obstacle here is demonstrating fracking is safe and environmentally secure. The Greens spread FUD based on speculation and propaganda in order to scare people into opposition. The government should have offered local authorities £1 million 'test fees' to drill test wells around the country, which would have had authorities falling over themselves to apply. Once gas extraction was shown to be safe enough to proceed then the biggest obstacle would have been overcome for effectively pennies, allowing a national roll out.

Instead they now have a mighty battle to drill so much as a single well. Madness.

Jan 26, 2015 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

"We as a family had to make a decision about whether we went along with it"

That must have been difficult. One large trough filled with FIT's vs a large empty field...

BTW, how does one 'cultivate' renewable energy? Is there a little solar farm alongside that needs weeding?

Jan 26, 2015 at 1:23 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Renewable energy is fertilised by spreading good, old fashioned, organic bullsheet and fairydust, through the BBC and Grauniad. This is a great example of recycling, how something well past its sell by date, can be revitalised, by fresh injections of tax payer funded cash (obviously Private Trust Funds, in the case of the Grauniad)

Nothing needs to be overcomplicated, if someone else is paying for it.

Jan 26, 2015 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

BBC news just now Cameron has made another statement in favour of fracking ..and did they they chose to play a clip of Bianca Jagger squeeling that we cant risk the nations health with fracking.
... OK I will continue my boycott against having sex with female BBC news producers

Jan 26, 2015 at 2:14 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I find the behaviour of the committee so unscientific, so unreasonable and so shocking that I wish they could be made to pay for all the damage they are doing. Some hope. I'm reluctant to emulate the Green Blob and revert to "ad homs", but am sorely tempted. Quite disgusting.

Jan 26, 2015 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Constable

Muck spreading
I would like to apologise for any confusion, to any farmers who practice traditional techniques of muck spreading, to increase soil production, to help provide affordable food, and stop people from starving to an early, and preventable death; with muck spreading journalists and activists, who celebrate famines as great opportunities, that need to be exploited, to champion whatever it was that they were told, by the environmental lobbyist with an attractive smile, over some of columbia's finest, last week, in a quiet corner, of a desertified wine bar.

I would also like to apologise to all people who hate long sentences., apart from MP's, Journalists, Activists, who deserve long sentences.

Jan 26, 2015 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

I heard Ms Whalley this morning. She seemed incoherent, wittering on about more time needed. At no stage did the interviewer challenge her, try to pin down why more time needed, what exactly the problem was/might be. The Fourth Estate might flatter itself about its ability to speak truth to power etc, more often than not it seems to me its happy to let power just waffle on. It would be fun to take just one of Ms Whalleys sentences and try to parse it, to try to answer the question 'what exactly does she mean?' Probably Ms Whalley is a devotee of the 'words mean whatever I want them to mean' school of thought so any such exercise would be a bit of a waste of time. In the end, she's just using random-ish bundles of words to get across the idea that she's not keen on fracking, the words providing some flimsy bulwark against accusations of ignorance or spite or stupidity or wickedness or any combination of those: sounding high-minded is a cunning way of not being thought half-witted.

Jan 26, 2015 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Enemies of the poor.
Member Party
Joan Walley (Chair) Labour
Peter Aldous Conservative
Neil Carmichael Conservative
Martin Caton Labour
Katy Clark Labour
Zac Goldsmith Conservative
Mike Kane Labour
Mark Lazarowicz Labour (Co-op)
Caroline Lucas Green
Caroline Nokes Conservative
Dr Matthew Offord Conservative
Dan Rogerson Liberal Democrat
Mrs Caroline Spelman Conservative
Mr Mark Spencer Conservative
Dr Alan Whitehead Labour
Simon Wright Liberal Democrat

Just how many of these have a degrees in the Arts, Humanities, Law, or the dreaded PPE?
They are scientifically ignorant.

Jan 26, 2015 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

It is a pity that prospective members of parliament are not obliged to pass a basic intelligence test before they are allowed to stand for election. That would weed out most of our problems.

Jan 26, 2015 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

This country is run by lunatics. We have an exploitable natural resource that science and real data from the US shows to have little risk attached to its extraction and they are considering banning this.

I just cant get my head around the arrogant stupidity of politicians and the eco loons that they listen to.

Jan 26, 2015 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterStu

Not such a great day for Putin's enviironmental pawns or those MP's in the Commons raking in their renewable industry money.

They will be back with the determined effort to destroy the UK economy.

Jan 26, 2015 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

The Green Taliban are determined to destroy our industry and economy and our gullible MPs are doing their bidding.

Jan 26, 2015 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Here is their educational qualifications:

Joan Walley: BA in Social Administration, Diploma in Community Work Development.

Peter Aldous: Degree in Land Management

Neil Carmichael: Studied politics

Martin Caton: Attended Norfolk School of Agriculture, and the Aberystwyth College of Further Education

Katy Clark: Law degree

Zac Goldsmith: 4 A'levels

Mike Kane: Former primary school teacher, has A'levels

Mark Lazarowicz: Degree in Law, MA in History

Caroline Lucas: BA in English Literature

Caroline Nokes: Degree in Politics

Matthew Offord: Doctor of Philosophy. Thesis: ‘Rural Governance and Economic Development: The Changing Landscape of Rural Local Government’ is an academic examination that considers whether changes introduced through the Local Government Act 2000 has introduced a measure of uniformity in the way rural councils work.

Dan Rogerson: Studied Politics at University of Wales Aberystwyth

Mrs Caroline Spelman: BA European Studies

Mark Spencer attended Shuttleworth Agricultural College

Alan Whitehead: PhD Political Science

Simon Wright: BSc and PGCE. Taught Maths

Jan 26, 2015 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Walleys are capable of producing as much, if not more rubbish, than any other left minded idiot. Most of it, will have been recycled many times already, unfortunately, much of it will go on to be recycled ad nauseam. They know it makes sense, not to waste a good lie. It is for the environment, you know.

Jan 26, 2015 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

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