Challenges & opportunities, which is fracking?

Happy New Year to all and let’s hope it’s a good year for the natural environment ….

The year started  well enough here, two kestrels on my metaphoric doorstep or backyard if you prefer.  I was reminded of a piece on a news programme that reported Kestrels in decline and appealed to people to submit sightings, so if one of your new year resolutions is to submit data to recording schemes, then look here at the Hawk Conserevancy Trust’s Kestrel Count and make your observation count?  I tried but experienced ‘technical issues’, hopefully other readers will do better?

Add to that Great Spotted Woodpecker at the nuts and home-made bird cake, a pair of House Sparrows amongst the eight or so Tree Sparrows.

Tree Sparrow 0018a_lowrespcrTree Sparrow, more numerous than House Sparrows around the periphery of Hatfield Moors

Up to c.20 Goldfinch, smaller numbers of Chaffinch and just a pair of Greenfinch but no sign yet of any of the ‘winter finches’ i.e. Brambling or Siskin yet.  Otherwise the usual two dozen or so species for a rural garden with the resident pair of Moorhen becoming braver with the advent of colder weather but no sign of the Weasel which graced us with its antics on Boxing Day!  Wonder if the Tawny Owl is vocal again tonight?

So, challenges and opportunities …. which is fracking, or is it both?  I suppose much depends on which side of the fence you sit, or perhaps you’ve not yet decided which side you’re likely to fall off the fence into ….

I don’t propose to try to explain the details of the process, nor the risks or benefits as there are many far more authoratative sites able to do that.  As yet, the Forum have still to analyse the risks to the environment and form a view, so to date we are still adopting an agnostic approach.  Is there any independant science out there?  Or is it all funded through industry think tanks etc.?

What I am doing is simply sharing with readers snippets I’ve discovered which may have the potential to impact on our lives in our bits of the Humberhead Levels.  What we’d appreciate is any reader coming across interesting or useful material to pass details across to us.

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) have just issued a press release “Next steps for shale gas production”, further to that I’d strongly recommend that readers respond to the DECC  consultation.  Interestingly the same webpage does not offer a direct link to that consultation, but if you look in the Notes to Editors and then try The Strategic Environmental Assessment, voila!   You have until 11:45pm on 28 March 2014, so go on make a start now!  Let’s begin to make the critical mass of conservation heard in the corridors of Government ….

Potentially useful reference sources:

DECC Report The Unconventional Hydrocarbon Resources of Britain’s Onshore Basins – Shale Gas  Promote UK 2013

BGS newsletter (through Dept Communities & Local Government) http://www.bgs.ac.uk/downloads/start.cfm?id=1366

Potentially useful maps:

http://www.bgs.ac.uk/downloads/start.cfm?id=2631

Cash for communities impacted by operations?

In August 2013, a joint letter was submitted by a number of ‘influential’ NGOs calling upon the Government “to put the brakes on fracking”

The National Trust have issued a statement on fracking, for more detail see here.

Information made available to MPs offers an insight into Government position?  www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/sn06073.pdf 

However, The Telegraph reports changes to a government-commissioned report to more accurately reflect the negative aspects.  The Guardian reports a number of stories, see here.  Who can we trust in such matters?  Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas was recently charged over the right to peaceful protest, now how’s that’s for a principled stance?

Is anyone able to locate Natural Englan’s position statement on fracking?  If you can, please drop us an email execsec@thmcf.org

Similarly if readers notice any planning applications for exploration in the HHLs then please, drop us an email execsec@thmcf.org  ‎

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