The French government has banned fracking (hydraulic fracturing) on French soil. Yet, French energy giant Total is now being incentivised to initiate shale gas exploration in the UK. British Prime Minister (PM) David Cameron is fully supportive and is telling “irrational” opponents to “get on board”. Isn’t that a bit like asking a mouse to sniff the cat’s nose?

French government says ‘frack off’

Five EU countries, including France, have so far placed a ban on fracking. The others are the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. In all cases, it’s down to concerns about the effects of fracking on the environment and health.

The French government didn’t just go with public opinion, which is typically opposed to fracking. During President Sarkozy’s presidency, France put a moratorium on shale gas exploration while it undertook a detailed study. When the study emerged in November 2012, it found that fracking – the only currently viable method for removing shale gas from rocks in the Earth’s mantle – would cause excessive environmental and health risks. While Sarkozy’s government instigated the first-ever fracking ban, current President François Holland decided to maintain the ban for the same reason. The decision was recently upheld by a French court.

So, now it’s up to UK citizens to decide whether it’s okay for a French fossil fuel giant, in the form of Total, to exploit not its own backyard, but the UK’s.

British bribery

Knowing full well that British citizens aren’t likely to get behind fracking, Cameron’s government came up with a cunning plan. It’s called bribery. What Cameron has proposed is that councils that accept fracking will receive 100% of the business rates generated, rather than the usual 50%. That would apparently amount to about an extra £1.7 billion per year per fracking site – a tasty sweetener during these tough economic times, if ever there was one.

Why we need to take a stand

Fracking is one of those issues that draw together the interests of those concerned about health and environment. It’s actually irrational, in our view, to be a proponent of natural health and healthy lifestyles without also being deeply concerned about protecting the natural environment, given our dependence on it.

Hear what ANH supporter and leading anti-fracking campaigner Vanessa Vine has to say about fracking below.

Vanessa Vine explains why fracking is dangerous

Last-ditch grab for fossil fuels

Allowing the UK government to move ahead with its plans to establish fracking sites throughout around 60% of the country is a dangerous move. Anyone claiming it can be done without risking contamination of aquifers, or of poisoning or degrading the environment, is likely to either be uninformed or a beneficiary of fracking schemes.

Fracking keeps us locked into fossil fuels for even longer. It’s a last-ditch attempt to squeeze the last fossil fuels out of our planet’s rocky mantle, delaying even further the inevitable shift toward renewable energy systems, whether existing renewables or promising new, green low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR).

You could look at it another way: as akin to raiding your last piggy bank in the knowledge that there’s nothing left to feed your household when the money’s spent. How much better would it be to expend your energy raising more money, rather than raiding your last savings? How much better would it be to invest in sustainable energy systems that reduce, not increase, our dependence on fossil fuels? The UK government’s strategy delays the ultimate decision, at an unknown cost that could be very large indeed.

To us, it makes perfect sense to invoke the precautionary principle and place a moratorium on shale gas exploration and fracking. But, just as with GMOs, even governments such as the UK – that signed up to the Rio Declaration in 1992, which includes use of the precautionary principle to guide environmental policy – are prepared to bend the rules to feed their desire for short-term gain. Guardian journalist George Monbiot reminded us last year of just how confused the UK government is on this issue.

Call to Action – tell Cameron to ‘frack off’

UK citizens – please sign each of the following petitions, by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace respectively, and forward them as widely as you can to your friends and contacts. Tell David Cameron that you won’t get on board with fracking and that he should look elsewhere to secure the UK’s energy and economic needs.

FoE petition

Greenpeace petition

Oh – and please boycott Total service stations if you’re a fossil fuel user!