Higher Education Funding Council for England

Challenging fracking in the local community

Wednesday 11-02-2015 - 16:06

As part of #GoGreenWeek, University of Central Lancashire student Samuel Johnson reflects on his thoughts around the issue of fracking, and the direct effect it could have on his university.


Fracking is the controversial method for extracting shale gas, a non-renewable natural gas with environmental implications in the way it is drawn out.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is right in the heart of a community set to be affected by fracking, with Lancashire County Council in the process of reviewing proposals that would approve two fracking sites.

Fracking has generally been in the UK since early 1980s but it only gained more attention in 2012/2013. It wasn’t included within the manifestos of the major political parties in the 2010 general election so lots of students within UCLan don’t actually know what it is.

Thanks to the Green Ladder project, a useful debate was held to educate some of the students and staff. A Labour Party councillor and a candidate for the Green Party, both people associated with anti-fracking groups, took one side of the argument. On the other, a student of UCLan and the Education Officer of the students’ union attempted to argue for pro-fracking. The shale gas company that we contacted to get a representative rejected the offer to debate their side of things. It says a lot about their arguments.

The pro-fracking arguments included how the shale gas industry would create jobs for Lancashire and under regulations from the British Government, all shale gas wells would need to reduce the number of emissions produced in closing the wells by about 90 per cent.

However, the anti-frackers opposed this argument by saying it was false that 64,000 jobs would be created as it takes around 20 jobs to build the site then only one or two to run it as it is a mainly automatic process.

They both agreed that there's a lack of democracy in the process and facts should be given to the public in an unbiased way. The voter should then be able to decide whether or not we should stop or start fracking.

UCLan SU's Go Green Society and Green Party Society will be lobbying Lancashire County Council on the day of the vote on whether or not to frack for shale gas in Lancashire.

Personally I will be protesting against fracking too. Fracking is dangerous for the environment and for our health and we shouldn’t be doing it whatsoever. I will be trying to make sure that the university itself does not start investing in fracking companies in order to attract more engineering students.

I believe that students do not know enough about fracking and its effects and through environmental education within courses students may start to become educated. If they did know, maybe there would be even more support for the anti-fracking movements due to the liberal and pro-environmental sustainability movement happening across the student body today.

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