The coming years could see fracking spread across the UK, with Sherwood Forest among the potential sites earmarked by chemical giants Ineos, who are exploring countrywide for new areas to blight.
Ineos are registered in Hampshire, but have their headquarters in tax-friendly Switzerland. They are partnered with the US energy company Consul energy, and are the fourth biggest chemical company worldwide.
Ineos have exploration licenses for many sites in England including Runcorn and Hull. In Scotland they have 51% majority stakeholdings for exploration licenses in Grangemouth and The Forth of Firth, covering a staggering 127 square mile radius. The government has made no attempt to inform communities that they could be targets for fracking. Similarly the mainstream media seemed not to notice the huge anti-fracking protest which took place in Manchester in November - the largest ever staged in Britain. So here it is again.
The founder of Ineos, British millionaire Jim Radcliffe, has offered cash incentives to landowners, businesses and local communities around potential fracking sites - this equates to 6% of profits of all sites.
They estimate a 2.5 billion giveaway to communities affected by fracking, and have even claimed it will revive their economies! The carrot of bribery maybe? Or do we actually believe Ineos are doing this out of their goodness of their hearts?
Lets look at the evidence at the Ineos Grangemouth site in Scotland. Ineos attacked pensions, froze wages and handed out harsh redundancies. Austerity cuts by Ineos saving them millions - not much of a giveaway there...
When the union Unite refused these proposed cutbacks, 'community minded' Ineos threatened to close the plant down!
Their new narrative is that Ineos are learning from the bad practices in America, which led to water contamination and earthquakes. They claim they have new scientific advances. They say they are open to debate with anti-fracking organisations. Many including myself are sceptical about this!
Lets look at some evidence.
The US enviromental agency estimates that 140 billion gallons of water mixed with chemicals are pumped deep into the Earth's bedrock every year as part of the fracking process.
Chemicals contained in the fracking fluid include heavy metals such as arsenic and human carcinogens. The US enviromental agency have also expressed concerns about the draining of water resources from the rivers.
Numerous cases have been reported from the US of how drinking water has been contaminated from this process. One example of this was the case of the Hallowich family from Mount Pleasant in Pennsylvania. Their farm was contaminated by 4 fracking wells near their property, which poisoned the water supply. Subsequently the family contracted many illnesses. Rangers Resource Corp, the fracking company, compensated the family with $750.000, but with pre-conditions - a gagging order, which included their two children of 7 and 10 years old. Gagging orders are common practice in lawsuits against fracking companies in the US, but this was the first including minors.
The process of fracking above ground can also affect the health of communities around fracking sites, with independent research suggesting links to cancer, asthma and other associated ailments.
Also, a increase in earthquakes in the US has been reported on a regular basis near fracking sites. In the UK some companies have been granted exploration rights for potential fracking sites by the goverment. In 2011 Cuadrilla, another British fracking company, were drilling on the Preese Hall site near Blackpool - two earthquakes were reported 500 metres from the site! If fracking becomes more comprehensive in the UK it will surely increase the danger of for more potential earthquakes. This is the case in the US where fracking is more common practice and the number of earthquakes reported has subsequently increased.
Michael Marshall of the New Scientist links fracking with earthquakes. He explains: "When the rocks underground, which contain natural gas, are fragmented by the fracking drill together with huge amounts of water and chemicals pumped underground .. this lubricates the rocks. The gas reserves then come to the surface, through the cracks in the rocks" However because in the Earth's core the rocks are moving from side to side, in his opinion this causes the earthquakes. The basic principles of fracking can not be changed - whatever the fracking companies tell you of how they have made improvements to safety and advancements in technology.
Germany,France and Bulgaria have banned fracking.
It's reported Scotland has banned fracking, but exploration rights have been granted to some fracking companies.
Fracking is about short term profit offering huge rewards to the energy corporates who have the politicians in their pockets.
All the evidence suggests it is a catastrophe for the environment!
Renewable energy is in my opinion the way forward. Portugal showed this recently with its entire national grid being powered by renewable energy.
The fracking companies are waiting for a license to destroy our environment!
While they are waiting, lets organise against fracking it's our duty to respect our planet