Letter: a balanced view needed on fracking

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Regarding the front page article on fracking in the DTP on 24 December 2015, I am increasingly concerned about the beliefs held by the public regarding the safety of the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process used to release gas from underground geological formations.

In answer to the question posed, yes wildlife (and water supplies) will be safe.

I would like to explain my position. I am a local business owner.

The business, which employs local people, designs and constructs wells for oil and gas extraction, and also wells for geothermal energy and gas storage. I started on this career in 1979 with a major international oil and gas company where I was formally trained in the process of well design and well operations. I live in East Yorkshire in a licence area which has been offered to Cuadrilla Resources.

I am a husband, a father and a grandfather. I am an environmentalist and a pragmatist. I understand that every time I open a loaf of bread, energy has been used to cultivate the crop, process it, bake the product, package it and transport it to my locality.

This applies to virtually everything I need in life. I have oil fired central heating but around 75% of people reading this letter rely on gas for heating their homes. We all have an environmental footprint. Fortunately, we all realise this needs to be reduced. As a pragmatist, I understand that the country needs energy security.

I am no expert on country energy policy. I prefer to leave that to the people with a proper understanding of all related aspects of such a vitally important policy for our children and grandchildren. It is interesting to note that fracking operations have taken place in the UK since I began my career 36 years ago.

The key to risk control in any country is a regulatory regime (put in place by the government of that country).

I have heard on many occasions that the regulatory regime in the UK which covers deep wells and fracking will not protect us.

This is wrong. I have worked under the UK regulations since 1979 and had experience of those in other counties around the world. The UK regulatory regime which covers deep wells and fracking operations is the best in the world, along with Norway.

All UK industries, including deep well and fracking, work to the same general principles, which are underpinned by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The engineers of this act showed incredible foresight by making the regime ‘goal setting’ by the user. In addition to the Health and Safety Executive, who audit against more recent regulation in the industries, the industry also has the Oil and Gas Authority and the Environment Agency who scrutinise and then permit actual operations.

The UK has a suitable and sufficient regulatory regime in place to operate safely and deliver some of the UK’s future energy security. Local jobs and prosperity will accompany any work in the area.

In conclusion, I would like to answer the two acid questions which I believe show belief in the safety of an industry. Number one is would I allow my children and future generations to work in it. The answer is yes – my son works in the industry.

Number two is would I allow drilling and fracking close to my home. The answer is yes.

Finally, I would simply ask that when readers are confronted with negativity, look for the balanced view, and not that presented by the alarmists in our society.

Richard Sands

Driffield