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« Round the bend - Josh 271 | Main | Virginian decision »
Thursday
Apr172014

Paterson's money

Owen Paterson seems to be putting his money where his mouth is, backing plans to develop shale gas in his home county of Shropshire.

The North Shropshire MP said without schemes like the one planned on his own doorstep “the lights will go out”.

Multi-national  Dart Energy has said it will submit plans to drill in Duddleston, near Ellesmere, if Shropshire Council waives the need for an environmental impact assessment.

The proposals have outraged campaigners who say exploratory drilling for coal-bed methane gas could open the door for controversial “fracking”, or hydraulic fracturing, for shale gas in future years. But Mr Paterson said the scheme would bring jobs to Shropshire and help provide energy to the whole of the UK.

Paterson's decision to put his money where his mouth, the task of environmental scaremongers is made much harder. I sense that we could be on the cusp of a change in the debate over shale. With Caroline Lucas distancing herself from most of the scaremongering - she says the debate revolves around climate only - and with the IPCC suggesting that shale has an important role to play, many of the weapons that have been used to prevent development in the UK may be falling away. With the world watching Vladimir Putin with a certain amount of trepidation too, it's hard to see how the greens are going to win this one.

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Reader Comments (28)

Not the first fracking in the UK, Lincolnshire has had fracking since 1960s with no problems, but the first of many I hope.

Apr 17, 2014 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

It's really time that the neo-luddites (because that is what they are) were called on this.
Fracking is not a "controversial" process; as John Marshall points out above it has been going on in the UK for 50 years or more and as a means of recovering gas/oil it has a much longer history than that.
The effects are no worse — and probably a lot less bad — than the shot-blasting needed to win coal or any other material that requires quarrying and the traffic disturbance is likely to be considerably less than where minerals are being transported.
Once again the environmental (so-called) activists are calling the shots and it really is time for politicians and others who know what they are talking about to stand up to them and explain some facts.
Challenging organisations like the BBC head-on about their "editorialising" stance on anything that they think might make for a bit of controversy is something else that needs doing.
I know it's all very well for me to sit here in the depths of rural France and tell everyone what needs to be done but unless somebody takes a stand I despair for the future, not just of the UK but of most of western Europe.

Apr 17, 2014 at 11:20 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Nobodies going to win this one. Least of all the greens. Fracing will go ahead, obviously, Residents will object, obviously (with or without green support.) Everything will be slow and expensive. The legal profession will get lots of work as always, politicians will shift positions to get the most personal gain from it they can manage, financial or influence. The environment will suffer some damage, although less than would have happened if we continued with big wind. Although that will probably continue too, as well as solar parks, sub stations and overhead cables. Energy prices will go up, because we're still committed to subsidies and taxes to appease the green movement. Britain will fall behind the rest of the world because it doesn't have a clear road ahead strategy that will ensure it's competitiveness.

.. Nuclear fusion and Thorium will hit the world big time, and change everything.

Apr 17, 2014 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagleblog

"The proposals have outraged campaigners..."
Outrage is their way of life.

I could vote for Owen Paterson.

Apr 17, 2014 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

The local Green Party will be having a massive disinformation campaign.

Apr 17, 2014 at 11:22 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

All too true, fenbeagle, but at least we have your excellent cartoons to keep us entertained while it happens.

Apr 17, 2014 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"The local Green Party will be having a massive disinformation campaign."

The Green Party's normal mode is disinformation. Their vision of a non-industrial medieval utopia is driving them not common sense.

Apr 17, 2014 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

I am astounded that any commercial enterprise can be found willing to "frack" or similar in this country. It is obviously going to be a huge uphill struggle.
That there are companies willing to have a go is a measure , to me, of how much money can be made despite the greens telling us how uneconomic it all is.
I suspect fenbeagle has the prognosis correct. Owen Paterson ploughs a lonely furrow.

Apr 17, 2014 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

"I could vote for Owen Paterson" and "Owen Paterson ploughs a lonely furrow". Owen Patterson appears to be the only member of the cabinet who is on top of his brief and doesn't go in for spin and PCness.

Apr 17, 2014 at 11:40 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"it's hard to see how the greens are going to win this one"

Well they have the advantage of being ruthless, nasty, deceitful and morally bankrupt. Consequently they will employ guerrilla tactics without any consideration for opposing opinions or even the law. They have thousands of stupid but loud followers who, in their own minds are occupying the moral high-ground, which gives them licence to do what they want.

Greens are just another terrorist group and should be dealt with as such.

Apr 17, 2014 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterjaffa

A little bit of kettling never hurt no one...except for that one geezer in the wrong place at the wrong time but still, apart from him no one was hurt!

Mailman

Apr 17, 2014 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Nuclear fusion and Thorium will hit the world big time, and change everything.
Apr 17, 2014 at 11:20 AM fenbeagleblog

Nuclear fusion has always been fifty years in the future. It will remain that way forever, unless a significant and currently unforeseen advance is made

The D-T brute force approach being taken at present has as much chance of succeeding as climate science has of producing verifiable models capable of accurate climate prediction. The current spending on D-T actually makes it less likely that the needed advance is made.

In the same sort of way that the current funding of climate science means that someone proposing to re-examine climate science principles from scratch would have as much chance of getting funding as a *********** of getting ************ in a **********.

Apr 17, 2014 at 12:19 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I posted on a different thread some days ago after the IPCC report appeared that the white flag was being raised on shale. In terms of the "greens", they have a disproportionate influence on the energy debate. Look at the numbers they poll in elections( with the exception of the rather anomalous Brighton seat and PR Europe) and they are embarrassingly small. As Trevor Cavanagh put it the other day, they have over egged the pudding and even Caroline Lucas who seems to enjoy being the only green in the Westminster village, in that she can say whatever she likes, would like to keep her seat.

Apr 17, 2014 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTrefor Jones

As a matter of interest - this pleasant weather we're getting at the moment - is it due to global warming..?

Just askin'....

Apr 17, 2014 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

The final comment in this piece is potentially the key that opens the door to fracking and shale.

Putin, Russia, Ukraine. Right there is THE biggest wake-up call to energy supply in Europe. Our dear leaders have finally recognised that securing gas today is more pressing than a potential issue a century hence.

All the other arguments postulated are looking pathetically shallow in comparison to the undoubted consequences if Russia actually turned their gas supply off to the EU.

It's focussing minds like no other point in this entire 'debate'. We need to secure shale gas, it's as simple as that.

Apr 17, 2014 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

Putin must surely be the greatest of heroes in the warped mind of the AGW obsessed green.

Apr 17, 2014 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

We were selling coal measures gas to British Gas from methane drainage bores at Cortonwood Colliery 45 years ago.

Apr 17, 2014 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Elliot

Fenbeagle (11:20 AM):

Nobodies [sic] going to win this one.
I hate to be picky, but you are wrong, here – as you point out later in your post:
The legal profession will get lots of work as always, politicians will shift positions to get the most personal gain from it they can manage…
An awful lot of dreadful people are going to be making major wins, all at the expense of the hapless tax-payers (you and me). As Jack Savage points out in a later post, that the companies are prepared to enter this Luddite minefield really does speak volumes of the gains that are likely to be made when we do trample the likes of Lucas and co into the mud they so dearly claim to love.

Owen Patterson can have my vote, too; would that the Conservatives put someone like him at their head, instead of the empty head that is presently there, then UKIP would have serious competition.

Martin A (12:19 PM):

…currently unforeseen advance…
That is the thing about a lot of advances that have occurred – they have most often been unforeseen. At the turn of the last century, as the Wright brothers hopped their paper and balsa wood kite over a muddy field, who would have thought that men would be walking on the Moon within 70 years, or that many tens of thousands of people would be in the air at any one time by the turn of the next century?

Apr 17, 2014 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Just as well the 3.2 magnitude earthquake this morning was in Oakham, Rutland.

Apr 17, 2014 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Mikwe Jackson:
the neo-luddites (because that is what they are)

Well, yes and no. The Luddites were relatively poor artisans involved in a desperate struggle to defend their livelihoods against industrial development over which they had no control. OTOH, few in the eco-lobby are poor nor is it their often-cushy jobs that are at stake as a result of the current energy shambles, much of which is the result of their folly.

Apr 17, 2014 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

I agree that fusion always seems to be "fifty years" away, but it will come sometime. Meanwhile, thorium is on the doorstep and the Yanks are already offering "packaged" nukes much cheaper and less polluting the French white elephant. For the reasons I've given so many times shale gas will remain a scientific curiosity in the UK (but no doubt profitable to some because of the high gas price). But, the lights are going to go out.

Apr 17, 2014 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

The European Union wIn the Nobel Peace Prize.Ironic they invite a politically ethnically unstable Ukraine to join the EU and NATO and manage to jump start the Cold War.

The West is dependent on Russian Gas ,Oil and Iron and Russia is dependent on Western Luxury goods .Keeps both sets of peoples happy.

Lucky really otherwise we would be at Def Com 4 and building nuclear fall out shelters under our stairs by now.

Interesting to find out what percentage of sales Lush Luxury Cosmetics sell to fossil fuel exporting, homophobic Russia.

Apr 17, 2014 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

As a matter of interest - this pleasant weather we're getting at the moment - is it due to global warming..?

Just askin'....
Apr 17, 2014 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

No.

If the weather is unusually good, it is just weather.

Apr 17, 2014 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBig Oil

Martin A (12:19 PM):
…currently unforeseen advance…

That is the thing about a lot of advances that have occurred – they have most often been unforeseen. At the turn of the last century, as the Wright brothers hopped their paper and balsa wood kite over a muddy field, who would have thought that men would be walking on the Moon within 70 years, or that many tens of thousands of people would be in the air at any one time by the turn of the next century?

Apr 17, 2014 at 2:23 PM Radical Rodent

RR - absolutely.

The point that I was trying to make is that these advances usually don't come from large govt funded research programmes. Furthermore, the really big advances are often entirely unforeseen; they don't come as a result of incremental development.

The following aren't single giant leap advances but nobody, 70 years ago, could have predicted the single chip microprocessor, DNA tissue typing, laser spirit levels for DIY, GPS units on car windscreens,....

When I heard about cold fusion, years ago now, I was delighted. It was obviously bollocks - the researchers were apparently still in good health despite having been near their unshielded apparatus whilst it was in operation.

But I bet the announcement of that cold fusion had been achieved gave one or two sleepless nights to upper management of the then current government funded efforts to achieve fusion power.

Apr 17, 2014 at 4:10 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A (4:10 PM): the advances that we have made to date have, as you rightfully say, been mainly unforeseen, and generally not by government agencies. What frightens many is not that they unforeseen and unforeseeable, but that they are uncontrolled. There seems to be a mentality prevalent amongst the politicos of the mad world in which we live that any change has to be a change generated by The Government, so that, not only does The Government get the credit for the change, but they also get the control – and it is this control that they want. This is the move that is afoot at the moment – government wants to have control not only of every aspect of our individual and private lives, but any advancement that may develop. What the poor deluded fools have yet to realise is that such advances cannot be controlled, and any control applied will merely stop advancement. One does not have to look too far back in history to see that enacted in its dreadful reality. The truly sad thing is that it is rarely these idiots who suffer the consequences, but more usually those whom they purport to be acting on behalf of – us!

Apr 17, 2014 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterOtterl Rodent

Apr 17, 2014 at 3:20 PM | Vernon E

You are trying to contain the Sun in a metal Box. That is a formidable technical challenge.

Apr 17, 2014 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Thorium history in the US:
"Between August 1977 and October 1982, Shippingport conducted a fuel campaign that burned a Th232/U233 seed-and-blanket fuel cycle in the light water application. The campaign generated an aggregate 2,100 gigwatt-hours (GWh) of electricity over 29,000 power-hours. The U233 was manufactured at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, USA. The fuel achieved maximum burn-up of 60,000 MWd/tTh without fuel failure, which is still not achieved in practice in today’s reactors. (NB. Thorium One consultants project-managed the core design for that fuel campaign from 1965 to 1971.)"

Most countries in the world now have thorium reactors, or are working on them.

We could buy one from China tomorrow, and we are sitting on loads of thorium under our feet.

I despair, sometimes....

Apr 17, 2014 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

No thorium reactors in operation.
There are huge challenges with thorium reactors:
Handling melted salt, for one. That is not typical power plant plumbing. Maintenance of a melted salt system is extremely problematic.
We cannot buy a thorium reactor from China tomorrow or even next year.
There are none available.
That reactor experiment you refer to was a light water reactor with a thorium supplement.
There are two very small experimental reactors that utilize thorium in some way. They are in India.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle#List_of_thorium-fueled_reactors
Neither of them use thorium as a primary fuel.

Apr 18, 2014 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

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