Fighting the frackers – locally and internationally
July 29, 2015 Leave a comment
At the end of June, anti-fracking campaigners won a significant victory when Lancashire County Council rejected Cuadrilla’s applications to start fracking at two sites between Blackpool and Preston in Lancashire. The Roseacre Wood site application was rejected due to “impact on traffic” and the Little Plumpton application was rejected on the grounds of “unacceptable noise impact” and the “adverse urbanising effect on the landscape”. Since a crash-course on the pros and cons of fracking during several visits to the Balcombe anti-fracking protests in 2013, I have been convinced that these kind of basic and immediate environmental concerns will ultimately be the reasons that the shale gas industry will never become established in the UK. There are of course a ton of other reasons to be more than concerned about fracking – the danger of water pollution, the risk of earthquakes, more fossil fuel burning contributing to climate change and so on. David Cameron and the Conservative government are wrong.
Although the council’s decision has been described as winning round one, victory in Lancashire was important. An article in The Ecologist shows what a significant achievement this was, given the shockingly low and dishonest tactics they were up against.
“The Planning Officer bears a huge responsibility to evaluate the application, via a reasoned summary of the best available evidence, in an impartial and responsible manner. Unfortunately, in this case the planning officer reports fell so woefully short of such standards that they raise the obvious suspicion of undue political and/or industry pressure and influence.” Dr Damien Short, director of the Human Rights Consortium at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.
Councillor Paul Hayhurst:- “We were told we must vote for the application. If we didn’t we would be breaking the law and we would be deemed irresponsible members. If it went to appeal and we lost, costs would be awarded against the authority.” Hayhurst then insisted the DCC (Development Control Committee) publish the legal advice so that the public could see it. The meeting was then adjourned until the 29th June. But it wasn’t until 10 a.m. the next day when the legal advice, written by David Manley QC, was finally published on the Council’s website, and worse still it was toned down and expressly stated that rejecting the application would not break the law.
The Conservative government recently announced an end to subsidies for small-scale solar energy projects and a cancellation of home energy efficient schemes. Despite their occasional token green rhetoric, the government really couldn’t make it more obvious that they couldn’t care less about the environment. Earlier this month they made an outrageous U-turn on the promise to exclude fracking from Britain’s most important nature sites.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. where thousands of wells have been drilled, the volume of waste produced is overwhelming the official disposal routes. It requires 5-8 million gallons of fresh water mixed with sand and chemicals to frack a single well. Some recent damming data comes from an Environmental Science & Technology article for ACS Publications: “Our findings indicate that discharge and accidental spills of OGW to waterways pose risks to both human health and the environment.” http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es504654n
Fracking on international trial in 2017
“The PPT will be inviting witness testimony from citizens all over the world who may wish to hold preliminary mini-tribunals in their own country. Evidence and findings from those early tribunals can then be submitted to the later plenary hearings in the US and UK.”
In the meantime, communities around the UK continue to organize and fight back. According to a recent survey by Frack Free Upton, of over 2,100 residents living within one mile of IGas and Dart Energy’s drilling site, 86% do not want unconventional drilling in Upton.
More information on fighting fracking in the UK at Frack Off or various facebook pages including B.I.F.F. (Britain and Ireland Frack Free) http://www.facebook.com/britainandirelandfrackfree