Archive | July 2013

The case for fracking is not proven

(Letter to South Wales Evening Post

RockyMountainFieldTest (enlarged)K Clements’ assertion that “the claim that fracking causes water and air pollution is not proven” (‘Danger was exaggerated’, Have Your Say, 31 July) only holds up because insufficient research has been carried out.

Given the strong correlation between fracking operations in the USA and Australia and incidents of water and air pollution, plus a mounting catalogue of health issues in the surrounding areas, it would be foolish to ignore the risks.

I am reminded here of the long battle to get the authorities and industry to accept the link between smoking and cancer – something we now take as a given.

In such a situation it would be sensible for government to adopt the precautionary principle, which states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an act.

In other words, we need to know that exploitation of unconventional gas will not cause harm before we allow it to go ahead, and not just accept the vague and unproven assurances of the industry and politicians with personal and financial connections to that industry.

This view is supported by the fact the Government’s own consultation on plans to loosen planning rules for unconventional gas drilling contained a catalogue of potential disasters. It warned of noise, dust, air pollution, “visual intrusion into the landscape”, traffic, the risk of landslides, flooding and soil contamination.

Or does Mr Clements feel that this is an acceptable risk for the people of Llangyfelach and other areas surrounding Swansea?






English is not our “native” language

K Clements (South Wales Evening Post, 13 July) claims, “It is English that is the native tongue of Britain.”


As anyone with any knowledge of Historical Linguistics will tell you, the surviving “native” languages of Britain are, of course, Welsh, Gaelic, Cornish and Manx.

English is a West Germanic language brought to Britain by invaders and/or settlers from various parts of what is now northwest Germany and the Netherlands.

Initially, Old English was a diverse group of dialects, reflecting the varied origins of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Britain.

One of these dialects, Late West Saxon, eventually became predominant, but even this was subsequently transformed by further invasions, particularly by Scandinavians in the 8th and 9th centuries, and most significantly by Norman French in the 11th century.

What we now understand as English has its origins in the Middle Ages, and was not widely spoken in a form that we would recognise until the 18th century; influenced by the publication of ‘The Dictionary of the English Language’ by Dr Samuel Johnson in 1755.

In contrast, the surviving languages of Britain have a longer and purer history, and therefore a much stronger claim to be our “native” languages.

The fact that everyone in these islands speaks English does not change the historical facts.  Nor does it provide a case to deprive native speakers of their right to speak their own language.

The future is renewable

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

Wind Farm (colour)On days when there isn’t enough wind to drive the windmills, perhaps we could produce electricity from all the hot air that Lyn James Jenkins (‘Sun hits at power plans’, Have Your Say, 12 July) and his pals generate in complaining about renewables.

Dirty, dangerous, dwindling and increasingly expensive fossil fuels belong to the past.

Clean, safe, sustainable renewables are the future.

Get used to it.

Fracking vs Tourism

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

S Jones (‘Is process worth the risk?’, Have Your Say, 3 July) is right to be concerned about proposals to extract unconventional gas, not just from the Loughor Estuary but all across rural Swansea.

There seems little point in spending money on promoting tourism (‘Experts drafted in to help boost tourism’, page 2, 3 July) when there are plans afoot for major industrial development in our rural surroundings.

Mawr is not just “an apparent hotbed of interest among renewable energy companies”; it is also the centre of attention for exploration for Coal Bed Methane.  Further to the East there is potentially Shale Gas, extraction of which might involve the controversial process of Hydraulic Fracturing (“fracking”).

Test drilling for Coal Bed Methane has already taken place in several locations around Mawr, and another application has been granted in Penllergaer.

Commercial exploitation of Coal Bed Methane and Underground Coal Gasification will require multiple wellheads and processing plants across some of the most sensitive and attractive areas around Swansea.  When you add in all the infrastructure required to support the wells, plus the huge number of vehicle movements needed to bring materials in and take the gas and waste water away, you are talking about significant disruption in the very areas where we want to attract tourists.

Allowing the gas industry to have it’s wicked way with our countryside will certainly frack any chance of a sustainable tourist industry in North Gower, Pontarddulais and Mawr, with knock on effects across the region.


Keith M Ross

CBMLandscapeProcessShaleLandscapeProcessUCG (1)

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