Whilst there were those that knew that this was coming whether they liked it or not, there were many English citizens who did not see this powerful knockout blow-to-their-dreams coming.
Yesterday (August 18th 2015), in their 14th Licencing round, Westminster Government successfully opened up the auctioning gates to 27 plots of land to the Oil and Gas companies for purposes of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction (USGE).
The areas up for purchase include several areas across the north of England and Midlands including Middlesborough, Scarborough and the Historical City of York.
Each individual auctioning block measures 10km by 10km, bringing the total area of land to 2,700 sq/km for these particular licensed areas. It is not entirely clear whether or not areas of special scientific interest and environmentally sensitive areas are going to be protected.
Why has this move come as a shock for so many?
In my own opinion, there were three events over the last 14 months that lead the English into believing their land would not be fracked:
- The collective moratoriums in Wales and Scotland.
- The (temporary) stalling of fracking in Fermanagh, N.Ireland
- The ban of USGE in New York.
The success of those three peaceful, law abiding campaigns seemed to build a momentum within the consciousness of many, not just the English, but the Irish, N.Irish, Welsh, and Scottish also, that the practice of USGE was something that could be stopped.
The bottom line here is that as a result of those three successes, people really did feel that if a local area felt opposed to the environmental and health risks of fracking that this meant that fracking wouldn’t go ahead.
However those that could look at the facts properly, and without emotion, could see clearly that this wasn’t the case, in particular when you take into account that David Cameron’s strong Pro-Fracking views.
Further to this, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Teresa Villers has previously backed fracking in Northern Ireland and only 8 months ago FFAN reported that the Minister of State for Environment and Climate Change Matt Hancock expressed his desire for Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction to proceed despite the fact that recent drastic diminishing oil and gas prices may make the energy extraction process even more unprofitable for both government and corporations.
This support for fracking by our collective Government Officials comes despite the fact that The British Medical Journal (BMI) criticising the technical, economical and health deficiencies of USGE and Australian medical journal the LANCET highlighting the health risks of fracking via water, air and soil transport systems.
Yet, fracking can only go ahead, subject with local planning consent by local councils. However, Westminster can over turn this.
As a result, many English citizens have woken up this morning with proverbial bloody noses as the stark reality hits them in the face that their area is now up for grabs, and they will have felt bad for not seeing it coming sooner.
Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales should take heed.
Below is the 14th Onshore Round of Licences that are up for auction.