I have just received a number of e-mails from local residents on the issue of fracking organised by 38 Degress.
Please will you speak out against government plans to remove local councils’ right to stop fracking in their community?
The Government want to roll out a huge fracking industry in the UK over the next decade. And to do so, they want to change the law so local communities and councils won’t have the power to block fracking applications.
This is a huge attack on local democracy. Please will you do all in your power to stand out against these plans? Please will you write to Liz Truss, the Environment Secretary; Amber Rudd, the Energy Secretary; and Greg Clark, the Communities Secretary, to call on them not to go ahead with these undemocratic plans?
This is my response:
Thank you for asking me to speak out against government plans to remove local councils’ right to stop fracking in their community as part of the 38 Degrees campaign.
I find it inexcusable that the Tory Government are looking to change planning policy to prevent local people having a say on the decisions that will affect their lives, countryside and environment.
If this goes ahead, I am concerned this will set a precedent for the Government running roughshod over local democracy on any decisions.
Just over a year ago, there was a debate in the House of Commons on fracking during the Third Reading of the Infrastructure Bill [see Hansard 26 January 2015]. The Bill received Royal Assent on 12 February and is now an Act of Parliament]
Although I was upset that they didn’t support a full moratorium, I was pleased that Labour MPs backed a ban on fracking all national parks and sites of scientific interest
Guardian Tories forced into U-turn on fast-track fracking after accepting Labour plans [26 January 2015]
Yet in December last year, the Government reversed this decision by sneaking new plans to allow fracking in national parking through the back door of Parliament after giving no time for Commons debate. As a result , the new rules allow fracking 1,200 metres below national parks and SSIs, as long as drilling takes place from outside protected areas.
Guardian Fracking under national parks approved by MPs amid acrimony [16 December 2015]
Here in Exeter [and indeed in the wider Devon area] we are lucky, as the geological make-up of the area makes it very unlikely that there will beany extraction of shale gas by fracking.
However, there is the wider threat that Devon might become a dumping ground for the toxic waste from fracking.
I have looked at the evidence of the environmental damage and pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing, and as a result I am completely opposed to fracking.
The further extraction of hard-to-reach fossil fuels is not compatible with the UK’s national and international commitments and I believe that more should be done to increase the country’s renewable energy production.
This is of key importance here in the South West where there is enough renewable power to transform the area – reports have shown that the region has the renewable energy resources to meet more than 100% of its total energy needs.
I will continue to support the campaigns of Frack Free Devon.
Please feel free to contact me on this matter in the future.
Cllr Paul Bull
Labour and Cooperative Councillor for Cowick
Member Champion for Community Engagement
PS You can download a copy of Friends of the Earth’s Stop Fracking Action Pack here