Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Fracking Good Geography, Howell

He [Lord Howell] had said that fracking, a form of shale gas extraction, should take place in the North East because there were large uninhabited areas.

But he told the [Telegraph] newspaper north-east England was not “in his mind at all” when he made the comments “but it came out of my mouth as the North East”.
BBC News Website 1 August 2013 Fracking comments peer Lord Howell meant North West

This is a story that keeps on giving! (See previous post.)

He said it was a “stupid error” to mention anywhere at all.

Lord Howell added: “The general story is right – that we want the derricks for fracking to be far away from residences in unloved places that are not environmentally sensitive.

“It’s odd that they’ve decided to do this in sensitive places down in Sussex.”

Ian Roberts from anti-fracking group Resident Action On Fylde Fracking said the mistake was “not funny at all” and described Lord Howell as “ignorant”.

“This man until recently has been a government adviser on energy policy and he is George Osborne’s father-in-law so he is not some old buffoon who is getting a bit confused,” he said.

Although quite how being father-in-law to George Osborne can be evidence that one is not an old buffoon eludes me.  And why Fylde should be more “unloved” than Sussex is a mystery to me.

The Telegraph says:

Lord Howell, … is talking about exploratory drilling in the South Downs National Park, around undoubtedly beautiful, undesolate and, more importantly, Tory-voting places such as Balcombe and Fernhurst. Fracking – hydraulic fracturing of rock to release natural gas – is the new bogeyman of the environmental movement, an activity said to be responsible for serious pollution above ground and below, contaminating water tables used for human consumption.

The South Downs seems to be a very sensible place for this sort of activity. If it must occur (and if it is so safe) it should be close to the users of that energy.  You can probably nestle (fracking) gas-powered power stations in folds in the Downs directly above the fracking sites and then minimise the number of pylons and overhead lines necessary to deliver all this energy to the growing South East. The result is possibly “less intrusive” than a few wind turbines – although why they should be more intrusive when built on the South Downs than when built on the North Pennines I do not understand.

I hope Lord Howell is not typical of the members of the Lords.  Part of the justification for the second chamber is to act as a (sensible) break on an otherwise all-powerful first chamber.

The North is not “Uninhabited and desolate”; the Lord is “Uninformed and Desperate”.


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