Follow @RoryTingle1 Whipped Green: Cameron's fracking article: corrections and clarifications

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Cameron's fracking article: corrections and clarifications

As any diligent newspaper reader would have noticed, the prime minister has sacrificed a summer of ‘chillaxing’ to assume his position at the helm of the Tory propaganda machine.

Any malfunctioning cogs – namely one particular relative of George Osborne – have been adjusted, and Government departments ordered to do their bit to produce positive news stories. So it is no surprise that David Cameron took it upon himself to write an article in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph to claim that Britain “cannot afford to miss out on fracking”.

Regrettably though, if the prime minister intends to break into journalism he faces an uphill struggle. What is meant to be a convincing manifesto for shale oil and gas extraction is filled with false assertions and empty rhetoric.

Therefore, Whipped Green has taken upon itself to issue some corrections and clarifications to the article in question.

These will be forwarded to the editor of the Daily Telegraph, and will hopefully appear in print later this week.

I, The Rt Hon David Cameron MP, sincerely apologise for deceiving readers with the following statements.


“It’s simple – gas and electric bills go down when our home-grown supply goes up.”

This assertion fails to take into account the primary factor behind changes in domestic gas bills – the wholesale price of gas. Britain is part of a grid that channels gas throughout the whole of Europe. Therefore, much of the gas produced in the UK would be exported, meaning that the cost reduction due to increased supply would be dissipated across the entire continent.

This contrasts with the USA which, until recently, hardly exported any gas. Therefore, the rapid increase in gas supply from fracking flooded the domestic market, driving down energy bills. Even Mark Linder, from the PR department at Caudrilla, admits that any reductions in UK gas prices would be “basically insignificant”.

Also, the cost of extraction in the UK is likely to be higher than across the pond. Initial attempts to frack in Balcombe (which is for shale oil, not gas) have been vigorously resisted by local residents, and all indications suggest than any further inroads by Caudrilla will attract substantial opposition. This is hardly surprising – the first extraction operation in Blackpool was abandoned after it caused an earthquake.


“One myth still remains – that fracking damages our countryside.”

Perhaps he meant to say “fact”, because otherwise this statement is truly bizarre. Fracking requires the industrialisation of our countryside on an almost unprecedented scale, with around 15,000 wells in clumps of six to ten needed to match production levels in the North Sea. Then comes the huge increase in traffic needed to service this infrastructure: six to sixteen lorries every day for five years according to a report commissioned by Caudrilla.


“International evidence shows there is no reason why the process should cause contamination of water supplies if properly regulated.”

This is a curve ball – because everyone knows that there is a huge body of evidence that fracking has caused contamination of water supplies. The Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester agrees, stating: “Evidence from the US suggests shale gas extraction brings a significant risk of ground and water contamination.” France has cottoned on to this and banned fracking, along with a growing number of states in America including New York.

The intricacies of geology mean that fracking can never truly be safe. Even Caudrilla admit this. The chief executive, Mark Miller, told the Guardian that although engineers can predict what will happen to the mixture of gas and water produced from fracking: “You never have control. Fractures will always go into the path of least resistance.”


“Fracking will bring money to local neighbourhoods”.

If Cameron means money in the form of bribes, then he may be right.

Even that is not guaranteed though. The residents of Balcombe may soon learn that they will not be legible for money – even if fracking goes ahead – because Caudrilla are drilling into rocks that “are not shale”.


“The regulatory system in this country is one of the most stringent in the world.”

The illusion that fracking in Britain would be free of the problems that are plaguing the USA was shattered when the first exploratory frack in Blackpool caused an earthquake. Also, the Environment Agency is hampered by budget cuts, meaning that a large amount of monitoring will have to be done by energy companies like Caudrilla. It does not take an industry specialist to remember several times when they have made big mistakes…   

Therefore, for the new conclusion – in David Cameron’s own style:

"Let me be clear – in the global race, those who aspire to work hard and get on do not need fracking blighting our big society. We have had to make hard decisions in these tough economic times, but this one is easy: no one wants to be fracked. We are all in this together."

Thank goodness he changed his mind. 

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