Many constituents have contacted me with concerns about fracking, the hydraulic fracturing of underground shale rock to release gas. This procedure, though known for decades, has come to prominence following massive exploitation in America, which has seen gas released for use at greatly reduced prices.
Masses of gas, reasonably accessible at current economic costs, lie underground throughout the UK. When used to generate electricity, shale gas produces less CO2 emissions than coal. But potential downsides of fracking include the risk of interfering with the underground water-table on which we depend. Also, explosive charges used underground in Lancashire caused two minor tremors. Another concern is that funding could be diverted from long-term development of sustainable and renewable natural energy sources such as wind and marine.
I believe there is a case for further practical evaluation of shale gas extraction but am opposed to public funding of fracking in the form of tax allowances or price subsidies levied on customers, as happens currently with windfarms. Also, since Scotland has a wealth of alternatives for long-term energy generation, fracking must be found to be at least as safe as other energy sources.
The above was originally written for Bill’s Dunfermline Press column. This version may vary slightly.