Today’s columnist, David Sorsby: Is fracking worth the risk?

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The Government’s dash for gas intensified last week with the announcement of areas that have been licensed for drilling for oil and gas, including Sheffield.

Most of us use gas for heating and cooking, so we shouldn’t have much to complain about, should we?.

However, fracking involves pumping toxic chemicals and lots of water deep underground under super high pressure to create fractures in the underlying rock.

Gas and oil trapped in the rock is released and pumped up to the surface, leaving most of the chemicals and contaminated water behind.

Horror stories of pollution, water contamination and accidents from fracking abound from the US.

US fracking companies allegedly use ‘non-disclosure agreements’ when things go wrong – compensation is only paid in return for the absolute silence of the home or land owner. So it’s possible there are more stories waiting to leak out.

The only full-scale fracking attempt in the UK was in Lancashire, where it caused two earthquakes and blew out the wellhead, forcing the operators to close it down.

Many of our neighbouring countries have implemented bans or a moratorium on fracking, including France, Germany, Scotland and Wales.

But in England, the Government are pressing ahead.

All of the new areas for fracking are in the midlands and north of England, and cover huge swathes of countryside, areas of outstanding beauty and National Park.

After decisions to reject fracking in Lancashire by Local Authorities, planning applications are likely to be decided by the Government.

Democracy in action, anyone?

*David Sorsby, founder of Livelight.org.uk