It’s not often I think that France can show us the way forward, don’t get me started on the French, mind you they did build really nice castles in the Norman period and some pretty spectacular cathedrals post invasion. They have also taken the lead amongst the so called rich, industrial, modern countries by banning fracking completely, although they are not against importing Shale Gas produced elsewhere. This seems a little hypocritical to me as this decision directly promotes the extraction of Shale Gas by other countries using the Fracking process, the process they have banned. However, I applauded this banishment of Fracking and sincerely believe we should go the same way. To me it’s a no-brainer as to get the shale to release the gasses the process involves fracturing the rock deep underground with high pressure water and a mix of pollutant chemicals. The gas is released and extracted but much of the chemical laden water seeps away through the fractures, slowly entering our water table deep below our feet but essential to life, all life.
The Tory led Coalition is in full support of Fracking, as they can see money signs from the revenue it will generate, but let’s not forget some of the leading Energy Million/Billionaires donate heavily to the Tory Party and have immense influence. The same energy companies that many of us have been condemning for their ruthless profiteering are leading the charge to buy licences for considerable areas of the country. The big six energy companies have considerable power with the political decision makers and they lobby heavily to free up as much land as possible so they can exploit this fossil fuel. The Prime Minister has recently given his full throated endorsement that Fracking can go ahead even under our most beautiful nature reserves, although he paid some lip service that these areas of outstanding natural beauty ‘MAY’ be offered some protection. The way the licencing is now set up is that if Local Authorities refuse permission for Fracking, then application can be made to Government who will most likely grant the application unless there are extreme circumstances to refuse – as if poisoning our ground water, which becomes our drinking water, isn’t reason enough!
When confronted about the issue of environmental hazards the Government defaults to the experience of North America where they claim Fracking has reduced energy bills in some States and then spits out a random guestimate that we in the UK are sitting on a trillion pounds worth of Shale Gas. Neither of these statements actually addresses the real problems of poisoning our water/soil and continuing our reliance on fossil fuels which are destroying our atmosphere. What they don’t tell you is that in North America there are lawsuits by the thousand for damages caused by earth tremors where fracking is being conducted, as well as suspected contamination of drinking water. These are just the tip of the iceberg as this technology is so new that the real cost to the environment, and all that depend on it being healthy, will not be known for some years to come. It is also worth noting that none of the energy companies operating in the UK have stated that fracking will reduce energy bills. If we measure their commitment to lowering bills by this current decade, well to be honest there is no commitment and bills have gone up by 30% on average but that isn’t the worst of it. The poorest people pay the highest tariff with the token meters that they are forced to have by these powerful energy companies, with this policy in place people often have to choose between eating or heating. It is estimated that in this 21st Century of ours 30,000 people, mainly elderly, die from cold related reasons – to me this is murder plain and simple!
By nationalising the energy companies we could direct profits into eradicating fuel poverty that is currently growing year on year. This would also mean that the current Government’s cut to the ‘green’ levies could be reversed, as for sure my bill has not gone down because they were cut, I have a feeling I am not alone with this. The whole point was to pass on the cuts to the consumer and instead they have pocketed it, seems greed is more important than morality to some companies. When the whole fuel prices goes down it is never passed on to the consumer, in fact the last time the price of fuel hit a sustained low our domestic costs/tariffs went up! Not fair, not reasonable, not moral and sanctioned by the Government, or they would stop this profiteering that is costing lives. Instead the energy companies do what they want when they want as they know they are protected and by the very people that should be cutting these giants down to size, our MPs. But there is a far bigger travesty going on, far bigger.
It is acknowledged that fuel companies get Government subsidies for their investment to discover new energy fields, such as oil, gas and now Shale Gas, as well as guaranteed future prices for nuclear power generated electricity. All together these incentives are worth billions of pounds of tax payers’ money in order to sustain our reliance on fossil and nuclear fuels, even though we still have no idea how to store the nuclear waste produced by existing nuclear power stations. The current ‘strategy’, if that’s what you can call it, boils down to digging a really deep hole and entombing it for the next 1000 years or so, like that’s realistic – NOT! To date this idea we can safely decommission nuclear power stations has cost billions of tax payers’ money, which is just obscene and offensive. We paid for the electricity that these nuclear power stations produced, so not only did they have subsidies to build them (tax payers’ money), they then got paid for the electricity by the consumer, then they get the Government to foot the bill (tax payers’ money AGAIN!) to decommission and deal with the aftermath of nuclear power. So yes we get to pay three times for the power we consume and the wealthy just get richer and richer whilst we bend over and get shafted.
All this is totally avoidable, we don’t need fracking, we need a Green Revolution to take place, which I wrote about in 2012 under the title of A Green Recovery (https://disabilityinbusiness.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/a-green-recovery/). This sets out a vision that we don’t need to spend huge sums of tax payers’ money on fossil fuels, which are going to run out and which we must stop using before it is too late. I believe an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK can lead the way in renewable, green energy, and underpin a huge step forward in an industry that we have yet to seriously embrace. Yes wind farms are out at sea and dotting the countryside here and there but we need the domestic market and our nation of shop keepers to fully embrace renewable energy. Now this is where people normally mention that without other countries doing the same what difference can the UK make? To me it is not that we are doing it just for our environment, which is important of course, and not just to avoid the ultimate betrayal of planet earth, that of poisoning the water we all depend on by fracking. No, the main reason to do this is because it is the right thing to do for our children and countless generations to come, and it need not cost us any more than we are spending already with the incentives we give to these morally bankrupt energy companies.
- A sliding scale of subsidies (means tested between £0 contribution all the way up to total payment for the costs) to have every existing home or garden fitted with solar panels to make the house independent of the National Grid;
- The same sliding scale of subsidies for every place of work again to make them independent of the National Grid;
- Each home and place of work is also to have a smaller version of a wind turbine fitted, either on the building, in the garden or car park;
- Farmers can have subsidies to have fields of solar panels to support local villages;
- When the homes and business are generating more power than is being used, this is given back to the National Grid to be used during peak times;
- All new homes must be highly insulated, including heat exchanger systems, solar panelling, wind turbine and ground source heating system;
This can be achieved if we just get on with it, the money is there and available to use as it is going to the current energy companies as mentioned above. I know this type of enforcement is not popular but we do need to act now, now is the time to stop all the B.S. and get on with it! It will create a the impetus we need and the research needed will make us world leaders in renewable energies from wind, sun, wave and ground, which will become an economic success we can believe in and benefit from. It’s time we started the revolution and do something positive for all our futures.
Yours most sincerely
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