Letters to the Editor

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Environment

Evidence not heresay

Mr McLean (letters, February 5) may state Midlothian thinks like him but given the way it voted in the referendum, I doubt it. But his assumptions on fracking are certainly wrong.

Eighty-five per cent of houses in Scotland are heated by gas, but in 2013 Scotland achieved an unenviable record of nearly one million in fuel poverty. Rationing energy at home increases ill health, with knock-on economic consequences, and in the elderly, to premature death.

A century’s worth of natural gas is present below our feet and can be accessed by fracking. Home-produced natural gas can stabilise the ever-spiralling energy price for heating and electricity and then reduce it; all would benefit, the poorest most of all.

I have looked at the sites of those who agitate against fracking (like Frackoff or environment America) and they are a tissue of exaggerations, selected and misunderstood evidence without balance and a mishmash of misleading hearsay. Their assertions are contradicted by the available evidence to be found in the 90-page document issued by the Scottish government last July, the 60-page document issued by my own institution, the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2011 and the two reports in 2013 solicited by the US National Academy of Sciences by university environmental engineers in Pennsylvania, the location of the Marcellus shale and the source of misleading environmental agitation.

Despite activist assertions about water quality, for example, these environmental engineers found that, of one million US wells being drilled, there was only one established case of groundwater contamination. Our environmental regulations are far more stringent than the USA and our situation different. My understanding is that every household that they drill under at one mile depth will get £20,000; please do so under mine.

Professor Tony Trewavas FRS

Croft Street, Penicuik

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