A company has applied for licences to frack under London, reports the BBC. London Local Power (LLP) wants permission to frack beneath Merton, parts of Surrey and a block of land that runs from Harrow to Westminster. The Park Royal Industrial Estate in Willesden is being eyed for a potential fracking well by LLP.
Fracking involves shooting a mix of water and chemicals at high pressure into shale rock, to fracture the rock and allow extraction of gas and oil held within. It's a highly controversial process, with concerns around what happens to the contaminated water after the process is finished and potential leaching of chemicals into ground water. Fracking was also blamed for earthquakes in Blackpool in 2011. LLP says that other complaints about increased noise and traffic "would not be a problem in London" because we're already such a loud and busy city — an argument we find astonishing at a time when we're trying to reduce air pollution and danger to vulnerable road users from heavy commercial vehicles.
Boris Johnson says he would "love to get fracking in London", though is under the impression there isn't much shale gas beneath our feet to exploit (LLP evidently feels differently). Fracking is being pushed by the government as a solution to make the country more energy independent (i.e., less importing of gas from the pesky and unreliable Ruskies).
However, the Mayor also accepts we need a mix of energy sources, so it's with interest we note figures from Green Assembly Member Jenny Jones which show that London has the lowest take-up of solar power in mainland Britain, as measured by sign-ups to feed-in tariffs. Even chilly Scotland and the North East have a higher rate of solar take-up than we do. Jones wants City Hall to push solar across the city, getting panels onto the roofs of supermarkets, car parks, schools and public buildings (read more in her report, PDF).