Skip to main content

The Fracking Threat

Campaign group Frack Off tell us the latest on the resistance to fracking in the UK

The last decade has seen an explosion in unconventional oil and gas drilling, as easy-to-extract hydrocarbons have become harder to find. The fossil fuel industry has been forced to resort to new and increasingly more aggressive extraction techniques.

In the USA, the environmental impacts of shale oil and gas wells have now been extensively documented. Wells are often drilled at densities of eight wells per square mile over large areas and have led to air and water pollution, and spills and explosions. 

What has received far less attention is the systemic impact of these new, more expensive, energy sources on society as a whole.

Economic re-alignment

Fracking and other extreme energy extraction methods, such as deepwater and Arctic drilling and tar sands, are not just poisoning communities and polluting whole ecosystems but completely reshaping the economy. It takes energy to extract energy, so a steadily increasing portion of the energy produced needs to be fed back to power further extraction, rather than be used by the rest of society.

In any such economic realignment there will be winners and losers and large energy-related corporations have been the main winners. It is far from coincidental that two major new political issues of our time, fracking and austerity, emerged simultaneously. Fracking companies have gained access to massive licence areas at minimal cost (a 10 km by 10 km licence block can be leased from as little as £2,500 per year) while public services and spending are brutally cut.

Tory manifesto shifts goal posts

The UK fracking industry has made so little progress in the last six years that the Tories have now promised even more exemptions for the industry in their election manifesto: they plan to remove the requirement for planning permission for exploratory drilling and to take away decisions on full-scale fracking from county councils.

Join the fracking resistance

With 10 million acres of the UK available to fracking companies there’s no better time to join the resistance. There are now over 300 anti-fracking community groups active across the UK.

Fracking is the reality check that brings the immediate impacts of fossil fuel extraction to the doorsteps of anyone within a licensed area. It crosses all class boundaries, pitting local communities, rich and poor, against the corporations of the fossil fuel industry.

Image: Fracking resistance

Current UK fracking frontlines

Lancashire – Cuadrilla Resources (Shale Gas): Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood are the largest fracking test sites in the UK to date, with four horizontal wells on two sites. Each will produce vast quantities of toxic and radioactive waste, requiring 20,000 truck movements per site. Construction at Preston New Road has now started.

Sussex/Surrey – UKOG etc. (Tight/Shale Oil): The threat in the South East is growing fast, with UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG) acting as its main cheerleader. A consortium of fracking companies is pushing ahead with plans to flow test a number of wells targeting the Kimmeridge Clay shale layer. Exploitation of the Kimmeridge Clay would require thousands of wells to be drilled on hundreds of sites across the Weald Basin.

North Yorkshire – Third Energy (Tight/Shale Gas): Third Energy has planning permission for a hydraulic fracturing test on its Kirby Misperton well and could start work at any time.

East Midlands – IGas Energy (Shale Gas): IGas Energy (with the backing of Total) are threatening communities in Bassetlaw, with planning permission granted for shale gas exploration sites with two wells at Misson and Tinker Lane near Blyth.

East Midlands – INEOS (Seismic Surveys): INEOS is planning to carry out a seismic survey across its newly acquired licence areas and is targeting South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire first (with Cheshire and North Yorkshire likely to follow).

Whole Country – Fracking support industries: Even if you don’t live in an area currently licensed for fracking, consider the network of support activities that it requires. Particularly threatened areas include Cheshire/Norfolk (Sand Mines), Leeds/Middlesbrough/Stoke-on-Trent (Liquid Waste) and Northamptonshire (Solid Waste).

Take Action

Is fracking a threat in your area? Check the Frack Off website for a map of all UK fracking licence areas. 

If you would like a pack of guides and materials to start a group in your area please email:

Become a subscriber today

Ethics made easy - comprehensive, simple to use, transparent and reliable ethical rankings. A wealth of data at your fingertips.

From only £29.95 for 12 months web access and the print magazine. Cancel via phone or email within 30 days for a full, no-questions-asked refund!

Start your subscription - find out more