Friday, 25 November 2011

Fracking fracker of a frackin’ row

WE do confess to being not at the top of the intellectual discipline that is geology. We do know what a rock looks like, and being resident in Belfast some of the time we know what the best weight of a rock is to heft during a riot.

However, when it comes to the practice of extracting deep buried sources of fuel from within (DUP Young Earth Creationists look away now) the boundaries of rock laid down millions of years ago, we’re not quite sure.

Norn Iron seems to, for all intents and purposes, to be bereft of natural fossil fuel sources. Had we oil or vast reserves of coal we’d have American ‘peace’ keeping forces here in 1969.

As it is, apart from strong winds from MLAs mouths, wind power is our only abundant natural energy resource.

But it recently turned out that we may have some ‘shale’ gas in Fermanagh: which comes with a slight catch. Shale gas is difficult to get out of the ground, even if some dissident republicans might suggest that they have some explosives that can do the job, scientists did explain that mixing gas and explosives is not a naturally good thing.

To get this gas out of the ground they use hydraulic forces to, erm well to hydraulically force the gas out. This technique is a wee bit controversial, even if it seems that we are to be reassured that some nice Australians are to be given the licence.

After all their ancestors were probably shipped to Oz as a punishment for some minor offence, so it might seem right and proper that they come back looking not to extract overdue revenge, but to extract our gas.

All well and good so far?

Well controversy between environmentalists and business men aside, this issue is not normally the subject of political satire.

But then pops up the Green Party saying that Energy Minister Arlene Foster’s hubby owns some of the land to be ‘exploited,’ or developed if you prefer.

Surely, claimed Mr Steven Agnew, it was a faux pas not to mention this when the Minister was answering questions on the licence to ‘frack’?

Not a bit of it, saieth the First Minister, Peter Robinson!

Who may be right as to whether profiting from property was a cause for investigation? Is it Mr Robinson? Is it Mr Agnew?

Or will this whole fracking mess just go away without the Speaker having to make a ruling.

Now as mentioned in the start we’re no experts in geology, but we do know how to use Wikipedia, the same as the next ignoramus. And we did come across an article suggesting that fracking may, or may not, have been the cause of a minor earthquake in Blackpool.

If fracking was to cause a political earthquake rather than a geological one in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, even Mr Agnew might welcome it.