Is fracking worth the risk, or should the UK pursue renewable energy


This Sunday, the Point of Information editors take on Fracking, looking at whether fracking should be implemented across the UK or if parliament should look towards renewable energy for the near future.

 Most people will know about fracking, but few understand the process that is involved. It is a relatively simple process, where large, deep holes are drilled into the earth and pumped with a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals. The pressure from the water fractures the rock, which pushes shale gas and the contaminated water to the surface to be collected.

 Controversy surrounds fracking and stems from the environmental consequences it holds. Fracking uses vast quantities of water, all of which must be transported to fracking sites, resulting in considerable fuel costs and environmental pollution.

 The water used in fracking is believed to contain carcinogenic chemicals, which can escape and contaminate local water supplies.

Fracking can cause earthquake tremors, with an earthquake of a 2.9 magnitude being recorded at drilling company Cuadrilla’s Preston’s New Road site in August 2019.

 Fracking has had success in the US and has been praised for boosting the domestic oil production and subsequently driven down gas prices. Nevertheless, this positive association has not been echoed here in the UK.

 Labour has encouraged the government to ban fracking, labelling it a ‘dirty fossil fuel’, however, two former Conservative party leaders, David Cameron and Teressa May, praised its use. They even encouraged Downing Street to fast track fracking applications.

Written by POI corespondent, Emer Kelly

When will we learn? relying on fossil fuels is not sustainable – Labour article

The Labour party is clear on fracking; we are against the use and development of the technique to supply energy for the UK. The UK simply cannot continue to rely on fossil fuels, it is not sustainable for the planet – when regarding climate change – but also for the economy and jobs market.  

Back in 2016, the Shadow Minister for International Climate Change, Barry Gardiner, established Labour’s strong stance against Fracking. At a Labour Party conference, he argued that “Fracking locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to renewables.” We know that time is running out to save the planet; radical action is needed to mitigate the vast environmental damage that we are facing. Just in the last few months we have seen unprecedented flooding in Venice, widespread fires in the Amazon and Australia, rising sea levels, these are just a few examples which highlight the state of emergency in which we live. 

The Labour party would, therefore, ban fracking in the UK, instead supporting green energies such as wind and solar power. Not only does fracking pose the obvious environmental damage, being a hugely invasive process which can lead to slick water polluting our waterways, but it is also a natural resource which will run out. Surely we should have released by now that foresight and changing to renewable energy is the only long term solution. 

It would also be unsustainable from an economic point of view to build up a job market around a short-term energy solution; we should focus on constructing a sector and an education and employment structure which is durable. 

Labour is also convinced that the future of energy is not privatised – we believe in ‘bringing energy home’ and nationalising the sector. As I have mentioned, we face an environmental crisis, and need radical change. The only way to ensure that the energy sector starts becoming more green is to push public ownership, that way companies cannot put profit over climate impact. 
You can read all about Labour’s energy proposal here, but to summarise the benefits of nationalisation, it will reduce fuel poverty for the most vulnerable, accelerate the rolling out of clean energy, and provide democratic control over our energy; public opposition to fracking is at an all time high.

Written by Labour writer, Isabella Jewell

Point of Information

Nationalising will just be counter-productive. Subsidies might be your answer – a Liberal response

I don’t know too much about fracking, and had to spend this week catching up to write an article to combat my fellow editors. I must say, Miss Jewell’s article is very strong in putting me off fracking, but her solution is perhaps worrying. I am not, as I am sure my fellow conservative editor is, completely against nationalisation. I realise its benefits on a number issues, but for renewable energy I have my doubts.

Nationalisation removes all competition from the sector, relying on the state to provide investment and capital for research and installation. This not only will remove all companies currently offering renewable energy, but also the competitive drive that renewable companies need to beat their competitors to market and replace fossil fuels.

If we are to replace fossil fuels, we need renewable energy to be ready in a couple of years and I think privatisation might be the only way to do this. It’s recommend Miss Jewell, that instead of nationalising the market, offer subsidies. Increase the amount of money available for research, and make it a more favourable, cheaper option for citizens to implement renewable energy into their home.

Written by Liberal writer, Max Anderson

More nationalisation from the Labour party? No thank you – a Conservative response

The upcoming election is going to focus heavily on climate change and the issue of fracking and Miss Jewell does clearly state the position of the Labour party which rules out fracking. I do believe this is hastily when we still do not know the true economic and health impacts of fracking. Even with the Conservatives and Labour’s plan on increasing solar and wind energy there will be an energy gap and fracking could fill this void. We have seen the economic effect fracking has achieved in the USA and we could replicate this creating jobs and bringing a new industry to poorer parts of the UK. We must not simply rule it out.

My final point is that unfortunately, Miss Jewell has mentioned the idea of nationalising the energy sector and not wanting companies to profit. This is nothing but classic Corbynist language which is simply not what the UK needs. The UK needs a Conservative government that allows companies to generate wealth which allows their employees to see rises in their pay rather than the idea of spending unnecessary amounts of money nationalising a sector which simply does not need it.

Written by Conservative writer, Jack Kane

We must wait on fracking. In the meantime we must commit to off shore wind – Conservative article

With the next episode of Brexit resulting in us having to go to the polls on the 12th of December, it has forced all major parties to express their beliefs on other issues. It is evident that climate change is coming to the forefront in the supposed Brexit election. This vitally important issue has reached the centre of politics due to the government announcing its halt on fracking allowing us this week to make up our minds on the issue. Firstly, I believe that the government is right to halt fracking as well as further investigating it use. Secondly, we must not rule it out though due to its economical benefits for lowering energy bills and thirdly, we must increase our investment into off shore wind.

The government has made the right call in halting fracking until there is further information which helps support the case for fracking. This is policy-making we want to see with ministers making decisions on issues based on empirical evidence. Right now there are too many problems arising with fracking. First of we have the environmental problems of potential earthquakes and the disruption of natural habitats as well, the worry of the health of local residents.

Recent health findings in the USA have found that babies born within 3 kilometres of a fracking site are more likely to suffer ill health. “The largest impacts were to babies born within 1 kilometre, about a half mile, of a site, with those babies being 25% more likely to be born at a low birth weight.” With these findings we must tread carefully and allow more research to be conduced. Yet we must not rule fracking out with a potential huge economic boost to local communities. It is vital that we wait for more empirical evidence.

So while we wait for new information and evidence to come to light over fracking, we must look at what would be a good substitute to allow us to reach our net zero carbon emissions by 2050. For conducting research, we must commit to building and supporting off shore wind farms. The potential energy that the UK can generate through off shore wind farms is enormous and we must continue this with wind power being the “UK’s strongest source of renewable energy and made up 20% of the UK’s electricity.”

 “The cost of offshore wind has plummeted about 30% in the last two years” so it would be inept of us not to use this especially with wind energy allowing operators to charge as low as “£40 per megawatt hour.” This in comparison to the Hinkley Point C which will open in 2025 will be at least 50 pounds more expensive. Furthermore, with the announcement of a green power revolution by the Tories creating 27,000 jobs and making sure that 30% of our energy comes for wind, it is vital that we get behind this Conservative policy.

So what to make of all of this? It is simple, wait for new evidence on fracking and in the meantime, commit to off shore wind. This is how we sensibly deal with Climate change.

Written by Conservative writer, Jack Kane

Point of Information

Green is the only way forward, fossil fuels should be a thing of the past – a Labour response

It is encouraging to see the Conservative Party’s halt on Fracking in the UK, when concerning the planet, all energy production needs to be thoroughly examined and researched before committing. Mr Kane highlights worrying case studies which suggest that fracking has hugely negative impacts on human health, this is a warning sign that cannot be ignored.

Whilst I welcome his suggestion that we should commit to renewables like wind power, I am dismayed that this is a ‘part time’ solution for Mr Kane; we should not be waiting on research on fracking, it is still a fossil fuel that has limited supply. As argued in my article, we should have released by now that fossil fuels are not solutions to our energy crisis, as they are totally unsustainable.

Mr Kane, and the Conservative Government need to follow Labour’s example and promise a Green Revolution. They should take the bold move to rule out fossil fuels, which will never be a sustainable solution.

Written by Labour writer, Isabella Jewell

Mr Kane’s article’s are making more and more sense… shame he forgot one thing – a Liberal response

Yes, it is true, this will be the second week now that I have agreed with Mr Kane. I am as worried as you are that he is starting to make sense, but alas again I must admit this is a fine argument and piece from Mr Kane. I only have one concern which is his favouritism to wind farms.

If you cast your mind back a couple of weeks ago, Mr Kane and I had a conversation about the Royals. In this article, I spoke about how all land 10 kilometres out to sea is owned by the royals. With the pursuit of wind farms, they will make millions renting the land to wind farmers. Do the Royals deserve to make money off the pursuit of clean energy? I think not.

Written by Liberal writer, Max Anderson

As a typical liberal, I’m not sure – a Liberal article

Fracking is not my specialist subject. When we decided to choose it as the debate for this week, two things went through my head – excited as I could finally learn about fracking, and worried at how little I knew already. After researching it, I have to say, I am still unsure about whether or not fracking is a good thing. The arguments for both are strong.

The benefits of fracking are undeniable. Fracking is a far better energy supplier in terms of efficiency and the environment. Its introduction in America ‘abruptly lowered energy prices, strengthened energy security and even lowered air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.’ With fossil fuels disappearing, the effect this could have on our economy is worrying and questions have been asked as to whether other renewable sources can keep up.

However, there are several negatives surrounding fracking, especially in terms of environmental concerns. The concerns are due to potential earthquakes that can be caused by fracking, but also because of ‘racking uses huge amounts of water, which must be transported to the site at significant environmental cost.’

This concern has been shared by the Liberal Democrats,with ‘Vince Cable announced our commitment to campaign for an EU-wide ban on fracking.’ Like them, I do lean to the side of promoting renewable sources, and investing in them instead of fracking. This being said, my major concern is is renewable sources ready to take over this massive task? I believe it is our responsibility to back renewable sources first in order to reduce our carbon emissions, but I do not believe fracking should be completely ruled out in case we need to call upon it in the future.

Written by Liberal writer, Max Anderson

Point of Information

A balanced argument, but how can we pursue fossil fuels – a Labour response

Labour is committed to resolving the problem of fuel poverty, but as outlined in my article, nationalisation is the way to do it. Mr Anderson cites the USA as an example of how fracking can lower energy costs, this is a positive outcome, but I believe committing to fossil fuels to too great an environmental cost.

Increasing reliance on fossil fuels will never allow the growth of green energy, especially in a competitive energy market. Labour calls for radical change and restructuring, as it is the only way to meet our environmental targets. The Liberal Democrats are also clear that we are facing a climate emergency, and want to invest in green energies, as such I am surprised by the lack of conviction in Mr Anderson’s response.

To save our planet we need to be clear; fossil fuels have no role in our future.

Written by Labour writer, Isabella Jewell

What a surprise, Mr Anderson breaks from the ranks – a Conservative response

It is good to see that Mr Anderson is aware of the benefits of fracking and it would be silly of politicians to rule it out when can see its positive attributes in America. Yet what amazes me this week is Mr Anderson’s general scepticism about renewable energy. I am not so sure Mr Anderson really is a supporter of the Liberal Democrats and its clear that he and Jo Swinson are not quite on the right page.

Unlike him, his party are nothing but optimistic about renewable energy and so are the Conservatives. Huge expansive projects into wind energy which by 2030 will make up 30% of all our energy. Furthermore with greater investment into solar and tidal energy we will reach zero carbon emissions by 2050. For Mr Anderson to say “Like them, I do lean to the side of promoting renewable sources,” is concerning for himself. It seems that Mr Anderson is not thrilled by renewable energy and has no answers into how we should get to zero carbo emissions. The only for us to do this is to vote for the Conservative party who have a great plan to attack climate change.

Written by Conservative writer, Jack Kane

Isabella Jewell
Labour political writer at Point Of Information | Website

I have just finished my second year at The University of Manchester studying French and Italian and am about to leave the Northern Powerhouse for a year abroad.

Jack Kane
Conservative political writer at Point Of Information | Website

Hello, my name is Jack Kane and I am third year undergraduate at the University of Exeter. I am a studying Politics and will graduate Exeter in the summer of 2020. I have been interested and engaged in Politics since a very young age.

Max Anderson
Publisher/Founder at Point Of Information | Website

I am currently in my second year of reading Politics at the University of Exeter. My first interaction with politics was at the tender age of four years old.

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