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Fracking green - Josh 334

Last Sunday Christopher Booker wrote a brilliant article "Why are greens so keen to destroy the world's wildlife?" He says: 

When Professor David MacKay stepped down as chief scientific adviser
to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) last year, he
produced a report comparing the environmental impact of a fracking
site to that of wind farms.

Over 25 years, he calculated, a single "shalegas pad" covering five
acres, with a drilling rig 85ft high (only needed for less than a year), 
would produce as much energy as 87 giant windturbines, covering 5.6
square miles and visible up to 20 miles away.

Which made me think: where would you rather live, in a county full of giant turbines littering the countryside, killing eagles and bats and producing unreliable electricity, or one with a small discreet gas tap somewhere?

Cartoons by Josh

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Reader Comments (26)

Sorry Josh, but you have left out the piles of rubbish and other environmental damage, caused by Green Blob protest groups in the rural beauty on the right.

Jul 8, 2015 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

A shalegas pad covers more like a large living room, not 5 acres.
We had the opportunity to see the reality of this over the past weekend, driving down the Texas coast.
Fields, open with trees, grazing cattle, etc. and the occasional well head all living together in peace.
Then, near Corpus Christi bay, a huge windmill farm of dozens of huge mostly spinning windmills, standing out above the horizon and visible literally across the bay. The land the windmill farm sits on used to be ranch and farm land. Now it is only farm land, from what I can see there are no longer cattle grazing there.

Jul 8, 2015 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

There is also the point that however many windmills are postulated, a conventional power station is still required when there is no wind. I realise this is obvious to everyone here (except Zed and possibly Russell), but apparently not to anyone in DECC...

Jul 8, 2015 at 1:19 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Seems to me that a conventional power station is still required (and constantly running in the background) even when there is some wind.

Jul 8, 2015 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

I think Josh has another cartoon showing the power station backing up the wind turbines.

Jul 8, 2015 at 1:31 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

An exquisite capturing of a lunacy. Would that it be reproduced in the national papers, as well as in those in Lancashire in particular just now.

Jul 8, 2015 at 1:32 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Eco-fascists are unique. They behave as if their prefrontal lobe has been removed, yet it's a natural evolutionary response.

Jul 8, 2015 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Nice cartoon Josh, however maybe you've just touched on something there?

Why not screen new shale pads with plastic trees? Don't laugh - they can be virtually unrecognisable from the real thing today and from a distance WILL be impossible to tell apart. Get a pad screened off during drilling and it will pass unnoticed by most people, in the process demolishing the 'industrialising the countryside' argument.

They'd be portable and be easy to install and remove to new sites as required, once the actual drilling has been completed.

Jul 8, 2015 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

It's a shame there can't be fracking wells amidst a turbine subsidy-farm.

Jul 8, 2015 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

It's too partisan.
Wind turbines don't kill the grass.

There are real problems with unreliable wind power. But creating Mordor isn't one of them.

Jul 8, 2015 at 2:12 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

cheshirered 1:54, and what about scattering some plastic replicas of mangled birds around the frack well, so environmentalists have some pretend damage, to pretend to get angry about. A lot cheaper than fraudulent fires out of water pipes.

Jul 8, 2015 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf charlie: Aye, why not - would add a touch of realism. They wouldn't like it, though. Chuck in some greenshanks and a couple of grouse.

Jul 8, 2015 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Ah but there's more than just grass to think about, M Courtney (2:12 PM)! Your point is a thoughtful one, but looking at the picture in this report, does it look more like the left or the right of Josh's latest masterpiece?

Jul 8, 2015 at 3:35 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Also Josh, if you add an R to to the counties, you will also have to add some very large transformers on the border:-
ie Turbine Country....XFR....Fracking Country


Jul 8, 2015 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPMT

cheshirered, for added realism, the replica mangled birds ought to be protected species like golden eagles, peregrine falcons, ospreys etc, and maybe a few avocets to annoy the RSPB, who like to think that bird shredders are a good thing, and totally benign, and would never hurt such emblematic birds.

Jul 8, 2015 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Whilst we cant comment on the previous thread and we are still waiting for JD Sutter there is an important link he should click before he wants to talk its on the right hand side and its say The Tip Jar.

Jul 8, 2015 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

"It's a shame there can't be fracking wells amidst a turbine subsidy-farm." -- Joe Public

There could be, assuming there's a fracable formation below it. The immediate obstacle is that the terms of the lease prohibit the construction of anything that could in any way affect air flow to the turbines. This is a minor thing and, in theory, could be negotiated around, perhaps requiring a small financial offset while the drilling rig is in place. In practice, I'm sure typical barmy-in-the-crumpet UK thinking will prevail.

Jul 8, 2015 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

It's a shame there can't be fracking wells amidst a turbine subsidy-farm.

Jul 8, 2015 at 1:59 PM | Joe Public

That is a brilliant idea. The greens would still try and object to a fracking rig due to its visibility even amongst the towering white elephants. Also, the greens would be obliged to set up a camp in the area allowing them the opportunity to enjoy the noise created by windmills. Let's see how long each eco-warrior manages to put up with that.

Jul 8, 2015 at 6:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

John Shade at 3.35

Odd caption to "your" photo:
"More than five million wind farms have been chopped down to make way for Scottish wind farms since 2007"

Jul 8, 2015 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered Commenteralan bates

@ jorgekafkazar at 6:11 PM

"The immediate obstacle is that the terms of the lease prohibit the construction of anything that could in any way affect air flow to the turbines."

A second & subsequent turbine on a subsidy-farm suffers interference.

Jul 8, 2015 at 6:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Golf Charlie: " the replica mangled birds ought to be protected species like golden eagles, peregrine falcons, ospreys etc, and maybe a few avocets to annoy the RSPB"

Not to forget the most emblematic of them all perhaps, the white throated needletail swift, making its first visit here for over 20 years just over two years ago, who had the misfortune to encounter a wind turbine, under the horrified gaze of numerous twitchers who had travelled miles to see it......

Jul 8, 2015 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

David Mackay was perhaps being safe to placate the green lobby inside DECC. Using US fracking well production data as a reference, I calculate that just one successful production well can produce the same net energy as 1000 2MW wind turbines in one year. In addition gas, unlike wind, is a controllable power source for electricity generation.

Jul 8, 2015 at 9:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best

I am afraid that fracking in Lancashire would be very different from almost anywhere in the world ^.^
Normally a 'derrick' would only be in place for a few weeks while the well was drilled. Fracking does not require a derrick but it does require tankers to bring in water and take away waste (unless the water can be sourced from local rivers). Fracking in Lancashire would also have to be done many times because of the sheer size of the well.
I am not sure how long it takes to drill through a 6,000 foot (minimum) shale deposit like the one in Lancashire but I think it would be quite a while.
I assume that the whole well, both the vertical shaft plus the many horizontal shafts would need to be drilled before any fracking could take place (I do not know for sure), I think drilling once there is gas in the shaft would be a no no hehe. I think under these conditions a 5 acre pad would be realistic.
I agree with M Courtney though that Josh's beautiful cartoon is a little unfair and that lush grass should be shown but without trees.
Once a Lancashire well was drilled it would be fracked many, many times.

Jul 9, 2015 at 4:17 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Ah yes, the buzzing of the bees in the fracking sites, the waste water ponds, how pretty

Jul 10, 2015 at 2:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

No compressor station either. We've talked about compressor stations in the past, too, so I'm not sure what the reason for the omission is.

Jul 10, 2015 at 6:41 AM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

Clive, the break even for fracked wells in the US is ~ $70/bbl. Fracked wells have lifetimes of ~ 1-2 years (half life) so continual investment is needed. With oil under $100/bbl it is a hard row to hoe.

Jul 12, 2015 at 4:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

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