I am extremely concerned and disappointed that, this morning, the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, has overturned Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse a licence for unconventional fracking at one of the proposed sites in Lancashire. Not only does this set a dangerous precedent, this decision drives a coach and horses through the Tory pledge to give more control to local government. Clearly, the Tory Government is not interested in listening to the views of the people who will be most affected, or in the democratic decision of Lancashire County Council.
I have spoken out against fracking on many occasions over the past few years. I do not believe that the process is safe, and I do believe that it is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Several other countries have already banned fracking entirely, but the Tory Government is still pressing ahead with its plans to “go all-out” for shale gas, putting profit before people and the environment.
When the Infrastructure Bill came before Parliament in January 2015, I proposed ‘New Clause 9’: ‘Moratorium on onshore unconventional petroleum’. Unfortunately, this proposed New Clause was not supported by Parliament, and was voted out. Instead, New Clause 19 was accepted by the Government (no vote took place), which I do not believe goes far enough to protect local communities from the effects of fracking. When the Bill went to the House of Lords, the Government back-tracked on the commitment to ban fracking near drinking water zones, threatening the safety of our water supply.
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, in her maiden speech to the United Nations on 20 September 2016, promised to ratify the Paris agreement on climate change by the end of this year. With this in mind, the Government should be investing in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, not in dirty fossil fuels which contribute to man?made climate change and rising global temperatures.
I will continue to campaign against fracking and to oppose it at every opportunity in Parliament.