Fracking protesters invade campus development

Swansea University has defended a new BP-funded research institute that anti-fracking protesters claim will hasten dangerous climate change

August 19, 2014

The Energy Safety Research Institute will be part of Swansea’s new Bay Campus, which was invaded yesterday by activists.

The protesters, who were “dressed as mad scientists” according to organisers, accessed the roof of the institute building and dropped a banner that read “no fracking”.

A spokeswoman for Swansea said: “The work carried out at ESRI will be based on our long-term strengths in this area and will include work on computational science (rock fracture modelling) and corrosion.

“The ESRI will focus on the safety issues surrounding the development of existing energy processes, as well as the safe deployment and integration of new green energy technologies,” she added.

According to its website, the institute will be supported by the oil firm BP and Tata Steel.

One of the protesters, Jac Bastian, said in a statement: “We are here today to stand with communities across Wales and the UK who are resisting their local areas becoming fracking sites.

“Not only is [fracking] dangerous and unnecessary but people across the UK don’t want it. If we are going to avoid dangerous climate change we need to leave unconventional gas in the ground,” he added.

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Reader's comments (1)

Mad yes, but not scientists. They seem to think just repeating something often and getting it in the news will change reality. That might have some truth, but it is a little sad and dishonest. I think what they remind me of most are fervent believers confident that beliefs equal truths and that everyone else must fall in line. As they say, they tried democracy, but people didn't agree with them. Now it is time to harass people instead. The protester repeats the common lie that people are against fracking. That isn't the case. Every poll conducted over the past 4 years shows that more support it than are against it, but that the biggest majority neither agree or disagree with it. More worrying for the protesters must be that support for fracking in randomised surveys can reach as high as nearly 60% just by changing the words. That isn't a population firmly against something. Do the number agreeing with genocide suddenly jump to nearly 60% if you vary the wording slightly? What the polls show is a public unsure of the effects and cautious about the approach, but generally supportive so long as it is done safely. The protesters then have little recourse but to say it can never be done safely. However millions of wells have been drilled and if there was a major problem we would know it by now. Fracking has been used for decades without any problem. That just leaves the volume of shale gas fracking as the last variable to disagree with. However, there is little evidence that this injected volume changes any of the realities of drilling and fracking a well. Apart from a few papers funded by anti fracking groups and environmentalist scientists that conclude little and ask for further research because they concluded so little (a well know tactic if you want to attempt to use science politically) the vast majority of research finds little fault with fracking except that using open ponds and injecting waste (neither of which will be done in the UK) causes surface spills, increased air pollution through evaporation and increased risk of earthquakes. However, the protesters are rarely honest about the differences between UK and US regulation, and in fact the US is changing its stance on open ponds because of the higher environmental risk and places have already banned wastewater injection to return the earthquake risk to normal. However, it should be noted that out of thousands of wastewater injection wells only a few suffer from increased earthquake risk. A full lecture on fracking requires several hours, but the truths about it are far removed from the noisy protesters.

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