Keeping Bristol fracking free is "naive, reckless", says US expert (bristolpost.co.uk)

ACABINET councillor’s pledge to fight for Bristol to remain a “frack-free” city has been branded “naïve” and “reckless” by an American fracking expert.

Chris Faulkner, chief executive of Breitling Energy Corporation, is known as the “Frack Master” in the US for the amount of so-called fracking his company has carried out,

He made the claim as he began a UK visit which he hopes will “open up a conversation” about the controversial practice that involves extracting gas from underground rocks.

Speaking to the Bristol Post at Westminster, Mr Faulkner criticised Councillor Gus Hoyt, pictured, the city’s first Green Party councillor to be a member of Mayor George Ferguson’s cabinet, who has already been very vocal in his opposition to fracking.

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Asked about Mr Hoyt’s aspirations to make Bristol a frack-free city, Mr Faulkner said: “I think it is naïve and reckless and politically driven.

“It is not about making a decision about what is right for residents.

“You are making a decision about how to get re-elected so you can build a platform for yourself.

“Looking out for number one is not the best decision.

“What are people basing these decisions on? Are they basing it on what they read on Google or are they basing it on fact and experience and that is the exact reason why I am here. People are basing their opinion on what they have heard, not what they know.”

Mr Faulkner claims shale gas is a natural resource that has been gifted to the country by Mother Nature.

He claims politicians have a duty to investigate its potential.

“When you have an indigenous natural resource of this size I think politicians have a duty to the country to have an energy security policy at the forefront of the conversation on fracking,” he said.

He added: “Last winter the UK was just six hours away from running out of gas.

“The controversial idea of fracking goes out of the window if people start dying because there is no energy to heat their homes.”

The Bristol Post was unable to get hold of Mr Hoyt for comment, but over the summer he revealed that one of his first conversations with the Mayor was about trying to ensure that Bristol remains nuclear and frack free.

Back then he told the Bristol Post: “You can never guarantee anything but one of the first conversations I had with the mayor was that we both wanted to see Bristol remain nuclear free and frack free.”

Mr Hoyt, who is responsible for sustainable development in the city, was responding to a call from Lib Dem Councillor David Willingham who has urged Mr Ferguson to declare his policy on fracking.

Fracking is fast emerging as one of the key environmental issues in the run up to the next General Election in 2015. On the one hand, it is a get-out-jail card for the Government because it would provide much- needed tax revenue as well as reduce the dependency on imported gas from other countries.

But campaigners are quickly organising themselves to fight test- drilling in many parts of the country, including in Keynsham. Shale-gas extraction is contentious due to its use of fracking, where fluids are pumped underground at high pressure to fracture rocks and release trapped gas.

It has been blamed for pollution of water supplies in the United States, where it is used widely – although Mr Faulkner has dismissed these concerns as “foolish and silly”.