“Remote and out of touch”: RAFF’s response to the House of Lords report on shale gas

A new report from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee on shale gas is due out tomorrow (8 May 2014). Unsurprisingly, it largely backs the Government’s all out support for fracking. Below are RAFF’s comments:

The attitude of the Lords has always been to support shale gas, so the conclusions of the Economic Affairs Committee hold no surprises for RAFF. We were invited to the House to give evidence to the Committee at the end of last year. We faced the likes of well know climate change denier Nigel Lawson and others, in an atmosphere that was largely aggressive and pro-shale.

The Lords have shown themselves to be remote and out of touch. Lord Howell, George Osborne’s father-in-law, doesn’t know his North East from his North West, or his on-shore from his off-shore. He had to apologise after telling the House of Lords that fracking should happen in the North East because it is filled with “desolate areas”. He later admitted that this was a “stupid error”, as he actually meant for it to be in the ‘unloved’ North West, and to top it all he thought it was to happen offshore not onshore.

Then we have Lord Browne who is Chairman of Cuadrilla, and who has more than a little vested interest in this industry going ahead. Finally, Lord Lawson, a climate change denier (despite the very recent IPCC report) and who, when we told him face-to-face that Cuadrilla had been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for making a significant number of misleading statements in their public information literature, dismissed this is as no more than marketing/sales-speak.

Although unsurprised we are disappointed that the Lords are choosing to support an industry that is largely self-regulated, is causing umpteen public health and land/water contamination problems in the USA, and is likely to bring misery for many residents up and down the UK. Their blinkered and short- sighted attitude is doing a grave disservice to our communities, and ignores the huge groundswell of objections and concerns from ordinary citizens across the UK who are doing their own research and coming to very different conclusions.

There are countless communities in Australia, Canada and the USA who are currently living with the harmful effects this industry brings and their first-hand accounts along with independent research need to be publicly explored. We need to talk about fracking.

The report, The Economic Impact on UK Energy Policy of Shale Gas and Oil, can be downloaded here. RAFF has been asked to provide comment via various media. You can listen to our response on Radio Lancashire here  (02:09:43).

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