Communities will be bypassed in race to allow ‘fast track fracking’ say Greens

13 September 2018

New Government proposals that would allow fracking companies to bypass Council planning approval must be opposed, say the Green Group of Councillors in Brighton and Hove.

Under new planning proposals put forward by the Conservative Government, applications for fracking could be classified as ‘permitted development,’ meaning oil and gas companies would no longer be required to apply for planning permission before drilling for oil and gas. [1] The moves would also see unelected planning inspectors handed the right to grant permission for such applications, again without the need for community consultation. [2]

Only 13 percent of the British public support fracking. [3] The Green Party has raised several objections to the plans, which they say make it as ‘easy to frack as it is to put up a garden shed,’ and will leave local communities without a say on whether drilling should go ahead. [4]
With a debate on the proposed policy in Parliament taking place today (Wednesday 12th September) Greens are also calling on all parties to help uphold the status of Brighton and Hove as a ‘fracking free zone,’ a status successfully established by the Green administration in 2012. [5][6]
 
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty commented:

“Fracking and the other unconventional fossil fuel extractions such as acidising are proving to be neither safe nor effective. Acid stimulation, which is likely to be used in our region for commercial production is a potentially damaging development which needs the full engagement of communities and councils in determining what impact it has.
“But these types of energy are completely incompatible with our agreed targets on climate change because the scientific consensus is clear – the pursuit of fossil fuels causes climate change.
“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and these new proposals would see democratic oversight cut out of some of the most controversial planning decisions. They make it as easy for oil and gas companies to frack as it is to put up a garden shed. Under the Conservative Government’s plans, communities and the scrutiny of planning committee would be completely bypassed, giving energy companies immediate, ‘fast track’ access to our precious countryside- much of which is National Park and rightly has some of the strongest legal protection. Cutting local people out from crucial decisions about their local area is completely unacceptable.
“Greens are committed to upholding Brighton and Hove’s status as a fracking free zone and want to ensure all parties keep their eye on the ball when it comes to this vital issue. In addition to our repeated call for divestment from fossil fuel companies, we must push for an end to relationships with oil and gas companies who are keen to profit from climate disaster, wrecking the environment and communities in the process. It’s a no-win. We lose once in the destruction of our precious countryside and twice in refusing to avert climate chaos by keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
“I have no doubt at all that these proposals have come about because local communities have been so vocal and so effective in resisting fracking locally in areas such as Balcombe and across the country. At a national level, Green MP Caroline Lucas continues to oppose fracking, and Keith Taylor MEP has written directly to Government to insist the plans are scrapped. The Greens are speaking climate sense – and we urge other parties to raise their voice in opposition to plans that fly in the face of local democracy.”  
 
 
 
 
[1] ‘Fracking planning laws should be relaxed, say ministers.’ BBC online, 17th May 2018:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44160820
[2] Written statement on Energy Policy, Greg Clark, Secretary of State for business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-05-17/HCWS690
[3] ‘Public support for fracking in the UK at record low, official survey reveals.’ The Guardian, Aug 2017:https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/03/public-support-for-fracking-in-the-uk-at-record-low-official-survey-reveals
[4] Keith Taylor Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Caroline Lucas, as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Brighton Pavilion have both opposed fracking. 
Green MEP Keith Taylor has responded directly to the Government consultation on these proposals, calling for them to be scrapped. He has outlined Green concerns in detail in a letter to Greg Clark MP:

https://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/index.php/news/green-mep-mps-report-governments-anti-democratic-fracking-proposals-welcome

[5] ‘Fracking free zone’ motion, proposed by the Green Councillors and accepted at full council meeting in October 2012:
http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000117/M00004135/AI00029848/$Item42121025NM06GenGrpFracking.docA.ps.pdfBrighton and Hove became a ‘fracking free’ council as a result http://bit.ly/13QlrpF
 
 
[6] 

Keith Taylor MEP has recently published the leaflet, 
‘A Guide to Drilling, Acidisation and Fracking in the South East.’https://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/publication/updated-guide-drilling-acidisation-and-fracking-south-east-0

A report from the Environment Agency published in February 2018 confirmed that fracking is a major threat to the water supply.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/state-of-the-environment

Studies conducted on fracking by the Environment Protection Agency in the US also indicate that earth tremors and earthquakes have been caused by fracking. 
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/04/us/pawnee-nation-oklahoma-oil-earthquake-lawsuit.html?smid=tw-share

A study commissioned by fracking giant Cuadrilla, the company behind the operation in Balcombe, found that fracking was the likely cause of an earth tremor which occurred in 2011. 
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/8864669/Cuadrilla-admits-drilling-caused-Blackpool-earthquakes.html 
In the summer of 2013, there was exploratory fracking in Balcombe. Many Green party councillors and members including Caroline Lucas MP, Keith Taylor MEP and Phélim Mac Cafferty took part in protests.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/19/caroline-lucas-arrest-balcombe-anti-fracking
 






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