This letter was published in the Sheffield Star on Monday 26 September.
A leaked Government report reveals that Prime Minister Liz Truss plans to lift a ban on fracking in the UK, breaking a Tory manifesto pledge to not support fracking “unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely”.
Supporters of fracking, a way of extracting gas and oil from shale rock by drilling into the earth, argue it will help boost the UK’s energy supply and cut rising fuel costs.
However, 93% of the UK public are against fracking, not least in South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire. Well organised communities in Eckington, Woodsetts and Hartwell have resisted drilling in the past and are likely to resume the fight once the moratorium is lifted.
The experience of people in the Netherlands since fracking began there in 1963 shows there is good cause to fear fracking. Extraction of gas in the northern region of Groningen has caused thousands of earthquakes which have damaged homes and reduced entire neighbourhoods to disaster zones.
And yet independent research published this month shows that neither fracking nor plans to increase North Sea oil and gas extraction will solve the current cost of living crisis or lower energy prices in the long term.
Nor will fossil fuel revenues guarantee the UK’s energy is secure by cutting the global price of energy. New chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng admitted this himself when he was Business and Energy Secretary but has now changed his tune.
In the meantime, the Government’s proposed £100bn-plus fund to cap energy bills may need to be repeated up until 2025. And who will pay for this? That would be us: UK tax payers.
Worst of all, extracting fossil fuels will put at risk the UK’s shift to a low-carbon and sustainable economy and imperil the Government’s own legally binding climate targets.
Instead of deepening our dependence on fossil fuel, we should cut carbon emissions and bring down energy costs by investing in insulating houses and ramping up renewable energy production. Experts believe this could have an impact within a year.
In a motion to Sheffield Council, Green councillors have proposed a Renewable Energy Strategy for Sheffield to increase the amount of energy produced from renewable technologies such as solar, wind and heat pumps.
This will not only help people and businesses reduce their fuel bills by using renewable energy in their own homes and buildings, but also create secure skilled jobs for local people.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that the transition to renewables is likely to have a “net economic benefit”. So the Government cannot claim the cost is too high while it allows the profits of fossil fuel giants to mount to obscene levels.
Councillor Christine Gilligan Kubo, Sheffield Green Party