Don’t expect gas prices to drop

STRUAN Stevenson appears to be misinformed about what lies behind the rise in energy bills (Insight, 10 June).

It is shocking that 900,000 Scottish households are in fuel poverty, and relying on finite, difficult to extract fossil fuels for our energy needs is part of the problem. The argument that renewables are responsible for keeping people in fuel poverty is simply not true. Research shows that rising wholesale gas prices and a dysfunctional energy market dominated by six companies are behind rocketing fuel bills.

Allowing high-risk gas extraction to go ahead in highly populated areas is not the answer to this problem. Coalbed methane, which Dart Energy wishes to extract near Airth, is found in coal seams, much closer to the surface than shale gas. This means drilling operations would take place much closer to groundwater aquifers than the more widely publicised shale gas. In Australia, where coalbed methane is already being commercially extracted, they are seeing significant impacts on water levels of aquifers near to operations.

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Peter Voser, Shell’s chief executive, recently admitted the potential for fracking in Europe is far lower than in North America, because it is more densely populated here. Predicting a huge drop in gas prices due to a boom in gas extraction is therefore premature.

Hannah Kitchen, Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland