Shale gas and coal bed methane extraction methods threaten communities across the UK. In the government’s drive to incentivise the fossil fuel industry, feeding our addiction to oil and gas instead of investing in a renewable energy alternative, the taxpayer continues to finance tax allowances for smaller fields like shale gas and coal bed methane. These incentives can cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds. The tax breaks for the gas industry make £500 million of profit exempt from tax, at 32%, this creates a toxic subsidy of £160 million. This doesn’t include the subsidy that the gas industry receives for the cost of decommissioning their drilling sites. According to HMRC, it is the UK Government’s aim to“maximise the economic production of hydrocarbon reserves” working with industry to increase its subsidy for marginal fields and projects.
The Tyndall Centre has described in detail the dangers of fracking, from its contribution to increasing harmful release of methane (a concentrated greenhouse gas contributing to climate change 20X more than effective at trapping heat than carbon) as well as the danger to the water aquifers in the areas where drilling takes place. Water is essential to human life and cannot be tainted.
Treasury has done little to disguise its disdain for supporting the renewable industry by its continuous decrease in the amount of Feed in tariff for wind and solar. The tariffs have a different effect on the taxpayer, as it is not direct tax relief, like the subsidy for oil and gas. The tariffs are actually paid by the energy suppliers. Were the government to support investment in the energy infrastructure, the electricity transmission system, energy suppliers may be incentivised to invest in renewables in order to reap the benefit of increased distributed generation. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.
Renewable energy can make a substantial contribution to the energy mix in the UK. One example is the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm site, planned at a location 13 kms off the coast of Brighton and Hove. This wind farm could accommodate a scheme of up to 700MW of installed electrical capacity. Based on current estimates of the area’s wind resource over the long-term, E.On, the project developer, projects the site could generate more than 2,100 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity each year. In a typical year, the wind farm could generate enough electricity for the domestic needs of the equivalent of around 450,000 average UK households. That’s more than two thirds of the homes in the whole of Sussex, including the city of Brighton and Hove.
You have a choice, we don’t have to wreck the environment to maintain our standard of living.
 Rampion Offshore Wind farm proposal, Community Consultation Document – Eon Climate & Renewables UK Rampion Offshore Wind Ltd, February 2012