Community is urged to fight fracking

The Frack Off meeting in Methil Community Learning Centre
The Frack Off meeting in Methil Community Learning Centre

The process of fracking, and its consequences, was drilled deep into the minds of Levenmouth people last week.

Local groups opposed to the practice could be springing up around the community after a presentation in Methil by Frack Off, a body opposed to the unconventional extraction of resources in the UK, particularly gas.

Representatives Andrew West and Nathan Roberts were invited on Thursday to address a 100-strong audience at Methil Community Learning Centre.

The meeting was jointly organised by the Frack Off group in Fife, which was started on Facebook by local people and now has around 800 followers.

Nathan and Andrew gave a detailed presentation, which also mentioned exploration for coalbed methane and underground coal gasification – UCG – with several firms looking towards Scotland’s central belt and seeking exploration licences in the latest round of awards.

UCG is the method favoured by Cluff Natural Resources, which has a licence, but so far no planning permission, for exploration in the Largo Bay area, and whose chief executive, Algy Cluff, visited Methil in December to promote its case, believing coal to be the fuel of the future.

Thursday’s main focus, however, was on hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ – blasting impermeable shale rock with water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to release the gases within.

Andrew and Nathan said the industry was highly experimental and plans at present were merely proposals.

But they urged the community to unite against any fracking projects locally and said opposition could be effective – but it had to be well organised.

All the exploration methods in question had “large volumes of problematic waste in liquid and gaseous form” while there was evidence of associated health risks, they said.

“This industry is gradually moving closer to where people are and is staying closer to people for longer,” they added.

“But communities are resisting this industry and winning. ”

The more visible the protest, the more it slowed down activity, cost the companies more money, and made the area less attractive to them.

“But you need the support of the community,” said the speakers.

A follow-up meeting is due at 8pm on November 27 at the same venue, to create area groups and discuss Fife-wide opposition to the proposals.

The opponents were asked if fracking created jobs, which would be “a big thing for this area”. After the meeting, Nathan said there may be a small number of jobs, but only temporary ones in specialist areas. Another audience member described the process as “greed, pure profit and rape of the land”.

Councillor Tom Adams, Levenmouth area committee chairman, said any planning application in Fife would be likely to attract a range of objections.