Anti-fracking protesters including iconic Mancunian DJ Dave Haslam are furious at the Government’s ‘terrible’ failure to agree an outright ban on fracking.
On Monday January 26, the Government agreed to ban fracking in national parks, set stricter conditions in individual areas, and also promised to introduce measures so that it could only go ahead if shown to be compatible with climate targets.
The process has not been banned however.
Politicians lifted a nationwide ban on fracking in 2012, a controversial method of extracting gas and oil from shale rock through drilling.
Campaigners in the Green Party, Frack Free and Friends of the Earth have all repeated their calls for an outright ban on the policy, feeling that the government’s concessions do not go far enough.
Reacting to the vote in Parliament, Dave Haslam claimed that politicians were ‘back-pedaling’ and ‘are living in the pockets’ of those responsible for the fracking.
The DJ and journalist author said: “People concerned with this issue are definitely not limited to environmental campaigners who are often painted like some marginal group.
“The ban in enlightened countries in Europe is a sign of the widespread concern, as are the recent findings of an all-party group of MPs, the Environmental Audit Committee.”
The legendary Manchester Hacienda DJ has been actively involved in the anti-fracking protests in the region and spearheaded the ‘Gig in the Rig’ in Barton Moss last year in support of the protests.
He said: “The Committee requested a moratorium, a chance to put the brakes on this. They had concluded that fracking was incompatible with UK carbon targets and could pose environmental and health risks.
“MPs in the Commons rejected this view, with the Labour party back-pedalling from taking a strong line. The Tories are clearly in the pockets of the fracking companies. This issue is widening divisions between the short-term, money-driven policies of the governing classes, and the citizens.”
Anne Power, Green Party member and anti-fracking protester, was especially angered and disappointed today by the lack of an outright ban on fracking in Parliament.
She said: “I think it’s a terrible, terrible tragedy that we’ve missed this opportunity to delay things.
“We at least need a delay until there’s much more research and much more information. There’s so much damage being done to the water supplies, air pollution, (damage) to people’s health, and the design of fracking is guaranteed to fail and guaranteed to have leaks.
“They’re setting in motion the most unpredictable thing and setting off trouble, and all of this in the face of climate change. The destruction of the human race is at stake here; we’re on a full tilt for extinction. Okay, it doesn’t affect us, but it’ll affect our children and our grandchildren.
“I thought last night we might be celebrating but now I know there’s no celebration and it’s back to the grindstone. I’ve absolutely got to do all I can.”
The Government has made significant changes to its fracking policy just days before an important local vote on shale gas extraction plans in Lancashire.
After repeated pressure from campaigners and MPs, the Government were yesterday forced to retreat over their fracking plans.
Donna Hume, Energy Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Public opinion and increasing concern from MPs has forced the Government into retreat on fracking. Everywhere it’s proposed, local communities say no.
“But these concessions do not go far enough. These changes would not prevent fracking getting the green light in Lancashire, despite overwhelming opposition from local communities.
“The only way to safeguard our climate, local communities and their environment from the fracking threat is to halt shale gas completely.”
The news comes ahead of Lancashire County Council’s vote today at County Hall in Preston on whether to approve two planning applications for drilling in the region.
The issues surrounding the proposals by fracking giant Cuadrilla will be debated and protests from anti-fracking demonstrators are also expected outside the County Hall.
If given the green light, these applications would be the first to be approved in the country since the government lifted the nationwide ban on fracking three years ago.
Campaigners, however, remain hopeful that the council will reject the proposals.
Martin Porter, Communications Officer at Frack Free Greater Manchester, added: “We were expecting the vote would be lost because, frankly, with the government support behind it, it was always going to be passed.
“What we were surprised about was the government concession made to no fracking in national parks which was a complete surprise and obviously means the peak district is safe, which is very good news locally.
“The government has been forced to back down on national parks but it’s not enough. We want a complete ban.
“Fracking is completely unnecessary. It’s a new fossil fuel and we don’t need more fossil fuels, we need to deal with climate change.”
Martin Porter added: “[The next move] is today and the two votes in Lancashire. The planning officer recommending it be rejected is certainly what we’re expecting, which would be a body blow for the industry.
“The local residents who would be affected have emphatically rejected the application and we now expect Lancashire County Council to ratify that decision and reject Cuadrilla.”
An estimated 20,000 objections over the fracking plans have been lodged against Cuadrilla’s proposals and more than 240 businesses, community groups and trade unions signed a letter calling on county councillors to reject the plans.
Image courtesy of The Hacienda @ PERU Via YouTube, with thanks.