Green-led Brighton & Hove City Council could become a ‘Frack Free Zone’ after a resolution was passed at a meeting of the council last night.
‘Fracking’ (or ‘fracturing’ in full) is the on or off-shore exploration and extraction of coal bed methane, shale oil or shale gas.
The practice has caused controversy since its emergence as an energy source in the UK and around the world with the introduction of new drilling technologies.
Fracking has been linked to disturbances in the geology of surrounding areas and requires huge volumes of water, as much as a million gallons, for each frack – hitting precious water supplies.1
Greens say that the methane gas produced at drilling sites is a significant contributor to climate change and is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Cuadrilla, an American company, has recently secured planning permission for hydraulic fracturing in Balcombe, West Sussex, about 15 miles north of Brighton & Hove.
Greens argue this could harm the surrounding area, including Brighton & Hove, with subsequent earth tremors potentially causing repeat damage to the London to Brighton rail link, an economic life line for the city.
It is also thought that the fracking process could potentially introduce harmful chemicals into the water table and therefore into the water supplies for the city and surrounding area.
Councillor Alex Phillips, who proposed the motion, said, “I am delighted with this vote. It sends a strong message that this city, as a major urban area in the Southeast, won’t support such a risky and unethical practice.
“The motion has been referred to the council’s main decision making committee to consider declaring our city a Frack Free Zone.
“I hope they back the proposal as it will encourage robust opposition to fracking schemes wherever they are proposed.”
The full resolution is in the notes below.
For more information please contact the Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.
(1) BBC News, 2nd November 2011: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-1555045
Council 25 October 2012
Agenda Item 42(f)
Brighton & Hove City Council
NM06- 25.10.12 Status: Proposed
NOTICE OF MOTION as agreed at full council
“This Council notes with concern the effects of unconventional shale gas extraction, namely the case of Blackpool where minor earthquakes followed as a result of drilling in the area. (1).
This activity has also been linked with the contamination of local water sources such as aquifers, which provide about 30% of the UK’s water. This puts both local communities who rely upon these water supplies, and the local environment at risk.
There are as yet no plans at present to extract gas in this way in Brighton and Hove – however Quadrilla, an American company, has already gained planning permission to use hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ nearby in Balcombe, Sussex. This could have an unquantified detrimental impact on the surrounding area including our city, and there are fears that any subsequent earth tremors could be a threat to the crucial London to Brighton railway route.
Fracking uses massive volumes of water, 1 million gallons(1) for each frack, which is also of great concern in a region only recently taken out of drought conditions. Methane gas produced at drilling sites is a significant contributor to climate change – far more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
This Council also notes that the production of hard-to-reach fossil fuels is incompatible with efforts to achieve statutory UK carbon targets. A focus on gas extraction detracts from and delays investment in renewable energy sources.
The European Parliament is due to report shortly on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities. There is considerable concern across Europe with Bulgaria having banned it and moratoriums have been put in place in France, New South
Wales and Westphalia (a German state). A citizens’ petition has also been initiated on the subject.
Further to the above, this Council:
– Asks Policy & Resources committee to resolve that Brighton and
Hove should become a ‘frack-free’ zone;177NM06- 25.10.12 Status: Proposed
– Asks the Chief Executive to write to the Secretary of State for the Environment calling on him to impose a moratorium on onshore and offshore exploration, development and production of Coal Bed Methane, Shale Oil and Shale Gas, at least until a full independent environmental impact of the processes involved has been carried out;
– Calls on the Government to make it easier for co-operatives such as the Brighton Energy Co-op, housing associations and local authorities to generate their own renewable energy.”
Proposed by: Cllr Phillips Seconded by: Cllr Hawtree
Supported by: Cllrs Bowden, Buckley, Davey, Deane, Duncan, Follett, Jarrett,
Jones, Kennedy, A Kitcat, J Kitcat, Littman, Mac Cafferty,
Phillips, Powell, Rufus, Shanks, Sykes, Wakefield and West.
(1) BBC News, 2nd November 2011: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-15550458
(2) Figure from Tyndall Centre on Climate Change report of last year. Gasland & Josh Fox suggest the actual amount is higher.