Friday, 19 July 2013

Fracking Hell

The British Government is to give significant tax breaks to companies involved in the extraction of shale gas through the controversial 'fracking' process:

Much of the debate about 'fracking' focuses on the environmental impact of gas extraction: environmental groups argue that fracking causes water contamination and earth tremors, as well as diverting attention from the need to develop renewable energy sources.  Another key question is, "What impact does and could fracking have on heritage sites and community heritage?"  These questions are being asked at the international level: UNESCO's World Heritage Committee has expressed concerns about the impact of fracking on the Gros Morne National Park in Canada. 

The tensions between economic development and heritage protection runs through the complex relationship between law and heritage.  Is law an agent of economic development or a mechanism for protecting community cohesion and tradition?  Can law be both?

These issues are explored in two good films: Gus Van Sant's 'Promised Land' (starring Matt Damon as the friendly face of capitalism) and the documentary film Gasland.

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