Camra to debate opposition to fracking

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) is to debate a motion opposing “fracking”, the controversial gas extraction technique, at its annual conference this week.

Camra is holding its national conference in Nottingham this week (Photo: Wiki)

Camra is holding its national conference in Nottingham this week (Photo: Wiki)

Real ale fans will move away from the traditional topics of cask-over-keg and the rising price of a pint when they discuss the possible impact of “fracking” on their beloved beer this week.

Fracking, the technique that sees a high-pressure mixture of chemicals and substances pumped into the earth to release stores of natural gas, has divided opinion up and down the UK.

Fears that it causes ground instability and contaminates water have been opposed by those arguing for fracking’s safety and the economic benefits of cheap and plentiful gas supplies.

Bringing this debate home to the country’s legions of beer fans, a motion is to be introduced at Camra’s national conference in Nottingham calling for opposition to fracking on the grounds that it could threaten “the production and quality of real ale” produced in the UK, The Independent reports.

Roger Steele, who is proposing the motion, explained to the newspaper: “The reasons behind me raising the issue of fracking are the significant and real risk to breweries and beer quality – the threat of pollution of its key ingredient, water, caused by fracking for shale gas.”

It mirrors similar moves taken by German brewers recently. This month, the German Brewers Association successfully lobbied for a law prohibiting fracking in certain beer-producing regions of the country.

Greenpeace is backing the Camra motion, and the British Beer and Pub Association, which represents large breweries in the UK, has welcomed the increased awareness of water quality by government and the beer industry.

2 Responses to “Camra to debate opposition to fracking”

  1. Garry says:

    Usual tricks being played here. I’ve safely drilled around 120 wells, including many in the UK. We are well used to local opposition since when we drill somewhere it is very rare for the local population to have had a well drilled near them. People are naturally cautious. However, over the last few years some people and groups have been going into areas and telling people it will destroy their area, collapse property prices, destroy water and cause cancer. Since there is no evidence for this in the UK under UK regulation and to make these claims these groups are looking at completely different legislative regimes I hope people will have some sympathy; especially since this is being used to garner money/donations and political power so there is definitely a motive for making the situation worse.

    The reality is that fracking has caused issues in some places in the US; mainly because:

    1) In some US states waste fluids from the well are literally just stored in an open pit. This sometimes leaks and is also a source of air pollution. They are illegal in the UK. Here fluids must be stored in sealed double lined metal tanks. When you see opponents claiming increased air pollution and health risks the research papers contain this data so it is not comparable to the UK situation. Here, well wells have been drilled for decades there is no reason to think that these risks will be comparable or that there will be an affect on air quality. The environment agency assessed the plans and confirmed this.

    2) The risk to groundwater comes from both the surface and the subsurface to aquifers. Wells are regularly drilled through aquifers without affecting them. They are then cased off and the metal casing, literally a metal tube, cemented into the ground. The well is then continued through this metal tube with multiple sections of metal casing used before the well gets to the hydrocabron zones. Even with 120,000 shale gas wells completed and fracked in the US there is still not a single case of an aquifer being polluted through fracking itself. In the few cases where water quality has been confirmed affected these are all down to the failure of the well – either the casing or the cement. These are very rare and it is not true that it spells absolute destruction. It can be easily rectified, but again in some US states regulation is not very tight on this.

    3) It is often claimed that large numbers of dangerous chemicals are used. This is not true. In the UK all chemicals must be non hazardous to ground water and all are publicly available and regulated by the same bodies that regulate industry at the moment. There would not be any huge change to the risk to water quality. Shale formations are very deep and separated by numerous formations, many of which are extremely hard, from aquifers and fracking can be watched in real time using a technique called microseismicity, where you can literally watch exactly where the fractures and stop the operation if needed.

    4) Earthquakes. Any process like this carries a small risk, but geophysical theory relates the volume of fluid injected, pressure and rock mechanics to fracture system growth and propagation and related seismic activity. Theory limits the activity to <3.0 on the Richter Scale. This is born out by the evidence. Global fracking induced quakes have been limited to sub 2.9. This is about the same as a truck driving past your house. Statistically fracking induced quakes are among the smallest. Coal mining is much larger and the largest by far is hydroelectric dams.

    If you want to get to the truth about what is going on here, both in its anti science attacks, and politically then you will have to listen to much more than just the anti groups. Many scientists have blogs on the subject. There is a good one by a geophysicist at Bristol University who does not work in fracking and has no conflicts of interest, unlike industry or the environmental groups who are benefiting both financially and politically from all this. I recommend reading his blog to see the facts about what is going on:

  2. Nick Grealy says:

    Yesterday’s news was that the motion was debated and rejected. Good luck trying fin that in The Independent

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