A green idea from Ecotricity

A green idea from Ecotricity

Renewable energy firm Ecotricity has submitted planning applications for schemes to generate what it describes as “green gas” made from grass as an alternative to planned fracking sites.

The firm has put in applications for green gas mills at two sites in Lancashire- Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.

Both sites had originally been rejected as fracking sites by councillors, however Preston New Road has since been approved by the Government, while Roseacre Road looks likely to be given the go-ahead.

The sites have been an area of dispute between residents for some time, with some arguing in favour of the sites for the economic benefits they could bring to the region- including an increase in jobs.

Speaking in June 2015,  before the sites had been granted, Steve Pye, a former chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde and Wyre branch of the FSB, said: "Is Lancashire open for business? Is Lancashire open for investment?

"We cannot be selective in what we do because we have got the best experts in the world and they are advising us that as long as we follow the criteria it is a safe place.

"If we say no to both sites, it will go to somebody else in the UK who are already prepared and ready to go, and they will take it all over and we will miss the opportunity.

"It is a brand new industry that could create a lot of jobs. It would lift the average wage and it would boost the local economy significantly."

However, Ecotricity believes that communities should be given the choice of hosting the renewable heating source it offers instead of fracking.

The company says its programme uses species-rich grass grown on farmland which is harvested and put through a process known as anaerobic digestion to produce renewable gas for heating homes and buildings.

Last month saw hundreds of protestors descend on Manchester to fight back against fracking, in a protest led by Bianca Jagger. Crowds disputed the positive claims of fracking, and fought for their right to maintain the land in the region for other uses.

A report by Ecotricity claims there is enough grassland in Britain to provide almost all of the household gas that is needed, and could create a new industry supporting 150,000 jobs and creating £7.5 billion for the economy.

It will also cut carbon emissions, help create wildlife habitats, improve soils if grass is grown as a "break-crop" on arable land in rotation with food crops and provide income for farmers, the study said.

Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said: "Local opposition to fracking is simply being ignored - it's the most unpopular energy source ever, but it's being forced on people by the Government.

"We want to show that there's an alternative to fracking - and start a local debate in the areas directly affected by it, in the same way we want to start a debate at the national level, including the House of Commons.

"It's important not just to oppose fracking, but to have an answer as to where Britain is going to get its gas from as North Sea supplies run out.

"Green gas is the new option - this is something that local communities should be able to choose instead of fracking, and something the Government should now consider."