RATHER than buying into the unlikely prospect of fracking's
leading to lower energy prices, the Church of England should be
calling for a transition to renewable energy sources, a coalition
of Churches said last week.
The statement, by Steve Hucklesby of the joint public-issues
team of the Baptist, Methodist, and URC Churches, was published on
Thursday of last week, in response to a statement from the chairman
of the Mission and Public Affairs Council, Philip Fletcher (
News, 23 August).
Mr Fletcher had said that blanket opposition to fracking "fails
to take into account those who suffer most" as a result of high
fuel costs, and pointed to "a number of balancing considerations
which need to be taken into account when coming to a view". Mr
Hucklesby said that fracking would "probably not" lower fuel costs,
citing a press conference at which a spokesman of Cuadrilla, the
energy company, said that the impact would be "basically
The three Churches "maintain that fuel poverty is a critical
issue in its own right but should not be a determining factor in
the consideration of a future UK energy mix". Mr Fletcher's call to
"place considerations such as the creation of jobs and energy
self-sufficiency alongside the impact of fossil fuels on climate
change has clear political impact on the current debate on energy
policy", Mr Hucklesby said.
The need to avoid "catastrophic climate change" presents
"serious, maybe even surmountable, ethical challenges" to fracking.
Churches that support fracking must at least insist that the shale
gas extracted was used sustainably.
As the Energy Bill is currently being debated, he said: "It
would be great to hear a perspective from the Church of England
over the coming months on the transition to an energy mix based
around clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and the
limitations on the role of gas in this context."
In a letter to the Church Times, James Granger of Fuel
Poverty Action described Mr Fletcher's comments on fracking and
fuel poverty as "alarming". Fuel Poverty Action had supported
protests against fracking, which was "a distraction from the real
solution of energy efficiency and renewable energy, which the
government's own research shows would save us hundreds of pounds on
our fuel bills, while also tackling climate change".