Is fracking now doomed in the UK?
Fracking is not an easy sell in the UK, and it just got a lot harder.
In a surprise decision, local county councillors in Lancashire, England just voted to reject plans for the UK's first full-scale fracking operation on a site at Preston New Road. This decision came despite vocal support from the UK government, and recommendations from local planners that the project be approved. And it followed hot on the heels of another decision to reject drilling at Roseacre Wood, which planners recommended rejecting based on traffic concerns.
Local protesters were obviously overjoyed at the outcome, which was better than many of them could have hoped for. But the ramifications are much broader than simple local politics. In fact, this may be a sign that fracking just can't work in regions as densely populated as the UK.
It's a point I touched on before in an article about why fracking may never succeed in the UK, and Damian Carrington over at The Guardian appears to agree—suggesting that while gas company Cuadrilla will no doubt appeal, the political mood toward fracking is souring.
Given the fact that UK property owners don't have the same mineral rights as in the US—meaning that fracking appears mostly all risk with little reward to many homeowners—the early successes of the fracking industry in sparsely populated areas of the United States was always going to be hard to replicate in Britain and, presumably, many other parts of Europe.
Given the growing mainstream concern over a carbon bubble, and calls to "keep it in the ground" when it comes to fossil fuels, this rejection by councillors—not to mention the huge swell of public sentiment that influenced it—should give investors serious pause for thought regarding where they want to place their bets when it comes to energy.