What is Fracking?


It seems the political parties are talking about fracking a lot in their campaigns with some arguing it’s a good thing, and others saying no, never and stop. But how are we supposed to care one way or another if we don’t actually know what it is…



Fracking: you drill down into the earth, find a rock, aim a high-pressure water mixture at that rock which causes it to fracture apart, and that then allows the gas in the rock to release and flow on out. Rocks have gas in them? Apparently so. Rock on!



The posh word for fracking, or what you’d call it if you were showing off at the dinner table.



The gas trying to be exported from these rocks is called Shale Gas. Fracking is going on all over the country in the North, South and Midlands. For fracking companies to frack in the UK they need to apply for planning permission and tick a lot of boxes before they can go ahead.



An image showing a protester holding up a sign against fracking.

Fracking protester

Where oh where do we begin? Firstly, fracking uses a LOT of water. That means transporting masses of water to the fracking sites which costs huge amounts of money, and doesn’t do the environment much good either. If we really want to pull on the heart strings, shouldn’t an adundance of water go towards countries with shortages or in dire need of water aid. Various African countries will spring to mind, but several states in America e.g. California is particularly drought-stricken.

Secondly, environmentalists worry that chemicals, and the bad sort of chemicals called ‘carcinogenic chemicals’, can escape during the fracking process contaminating the surrounding areas underground and on the fracking site. There’s also the worry that fracking is causing earth tremors: Blackpool had two tiny earthquakes back in 2011 after fracking took place in the area. And what about renewable energy sources people!? Can’t the money being invested in fracking be used to fund more renewable energy sources instead? After all, fracking is only continuing our reliance on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are bad for us, remember?



Fracking lets you have access to those difficult to reach resources of oil and gas but most importantly it has given the UK gas security for the next 100 years. It’s great for job creation, the economy and energy supplies: the US have been busy fracking and it has meant millions more jobs, and much cheaper fuel because it’s all coming from home turf and not being imported in. So California might be desperate for some water, but now that they have a job they can afford bottled water! *Probing, another explainer for another time*

A word from our Environment expert, David Saddington: “Fracking is quite an old technology for extracting fossil fuels but as previously mentioned the big rise in popularity came during the US shale boom in the early 2000’s and lots of videos hit youtube of people who could light their tapwater on fire because of the methane in the water. Matt Damon even did a film about it called The Promised Land.” 


The US have their own political stances on this, but for now let’s talk UK:

Conservatives: support fracking for shale gas….if it’s done safely. Their argument is that the positives outweigh the negatives. There is a lot that contributes to climate change and fracking might be a small part of it.

Labour: put in tougher measures before fracking can take place and give Wales and Scotland the power to decide on fracking in their countries independently.

Lib Dems: similar to the Tories but re-invest 50% of the tax income from fracking in green energy. Fighting fire with fire no?

UKIP: support fracking.

Greens: have a guess… yep… totally against it.

SNP: don’t like it either and will ban it in Scotland.

Plaid Cymru: not totally against it, but support a freeze on fracking in the meantime.

What else have the parties got planned for our environment:


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Explaining Climate Change

Environmentalists: “No matter what anyone says, climate change is leading to a warming world. As nice as the sun may feel on your back, it’s not a good thing and carbon emissions aren’t helping.”

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