Fracked off: Salford Green Party chairman blasts government over controversial energy plans

By Robbie Gill

Controversial government plans to restart fracking on UK shores has been slammed by the Salford Green Party chairman.

The process, used to extract shale gas from deep underground, was previously blamed for causing earth quakes but has now been given the green light – a move that will create billions of pounds of gas.

Joe O’Neil, chairman of the Salford Green Party has criticised the move as ‘short sighted’ as it fails to address long term energy concerns.

He said: “I am at loss that they could sanction a proposal that could create untold ecological damage for a 4% reduction in production costs.

“I really felt that after the intense pressure from ourselves and others they would have taken more time to look into the issue.”

However, the decision has gained support, Manchester’s Liberal Democrat candidate Marc Ramsbottom has defended the plans.

Mr Ramsbottom said that shale gas represents a promising new potential energy resource for the UK which could contribute significantly to our energy security and reducing our reliance on imports.

He added: “It is essential that its development should not come at the expense of local communities or the environment. Fracking must be safe and the public must be confident that it is safe.”

The plans, set out by Ed Davey have been criticised for the chemicals used during the process which could affect water supplies.

Mr O’Neil said: “The untold dangers that could lie ahead are extreme even to the most simple of pollution of the water table.”

The government’s decision follows evidence gained by a detailed study of the latest scientific research available.

While the process is at a relatively early stage in the UK, Mr Ramsbottom believes that the increased independence that fracking would offer will benefit Manchester residents.

He said: “In the long term as we diversify our energy supply it will help to reduce our energy bills. This will help reduce fuel poverty for many Manchester residents.”

Ed Davey’s proposals come as consumer anger over rising energy prices is growing, and Mr Ramsbottom is sure that these proposals make sound economic and ecological sense,” he said.

“The government is helping with some of the capital costs involved in promoting sustainable energy.

“But I believe that lower fuel bills as well as making economic sense will help to reduce our carbon emissions and help the environment.”

Consumer anger has centred around spiralling utility bills as well as a confusing tariff system and Mr O’Neil stated that this system has also had a negative ecological impact.

He said: “In Salford alone we have seen the removal of chat moss with test rigs, so what next they stop the removal of peat and replace it with derricks?

“This is a short sited move environmentally, especially for a reduction of just 4% over an extended period on our gas bills.”

Mr Ramsbottom also admitted that the tariff system imposed by the private energy sector needed addressing, but was adamant that fracking could form part of a sustainable energy future.

He said: “The bewildering tariff policies of energy companies is finally being simplified and this is long overdue so consumers can properly compare rates and tariffs.

“But private businesses have helped to upgrade out energy supply with some major capital investments that otherwise would not have happened.

“As part of an overall energy strategy that includes renewables as well as energy saving measures and this balanced approached is right in my view.”

Picture courtesy of Wiki Commons, with thanks.

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