Reactions to the news that fracking will start in the UK following a failed legal challenge.
Professor Stuart Haszeldine, Professor of Carbon Capture, University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences, said:
“Fracking artificially cracks the rock. To get the cracks to move in the desired direction, it’s necessary to understand the direction in which the rock is naturally compressed and extended. The UK has spent a long time in the last 7 years compiling the information which is available. But there is very little information available at the depths required – so the effect remains poorly predictable.
“Additionally the UK has many geological faults. The larger ones have been mapped in the underground. But it’s simply not possible to detect and map all the small faults like the fault encountered when fracking at Preese Hall. That’s important because rock can move along previous weak fault planes and make earthquakes much more easily than unfaulted rock – responding to smaller inputs from fracking
“So new wells which are drilled and are fracked will build the information base for the UK. But it’s quite likely that some will exceed the natural limit, and trigger earthquakes many years before nature would have done so. How these are handled, depends on how the traffic light system actually is interpreted in practise. A letter from Energy Minister last week implies that Government may wish to relax traffic light standards as soon as possible. Whereas it’s also possible that standards may need to be tightened. Depending on what is discovered.
“England continues to pioneer a trail which values private profit and centralised government over local decision making and lack of democratic power. A test of regulation with aspiration, over conservation. And all in the same week that it became even clearer from the IPCC that every extra tonne of fossil carbon released is a tonne closer to climate disaster.”
All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink: http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/tag/fracking/