Environmentalists slam UK Government fracking go ahead for Lancashire

Friends of the Earth pleas for rethink on shale as Lancashire drilling is given green light

CAMPAIGNERS across the UK have expressed their frustration and anger at the decision to allow shale gas drilling at a site in Preston New Road, Lancashire.

The decision was taken by Sajid Javid, the secretary for communities and local government, but researchers say it flies in the face of years of facts about shale gas and its impact on communities.

Local community groups and environmental campaigners had submitted 18,000 objections after fracking energy giant Cuadrilla appealed Lancashire County Council’s (LCC) decision to refuse them permission.

“Profit clearly comes before people. This decision will be scrutinised by many, not just the people of Lancashire and this travesty of justice will not be accepted.” Pat Davies

Friends of the Earth (FoE) north-west campaigner, Helen Rimmer said: “This is bad news for Lancashire – the community have been fighting fracking for more than five years. This fight continues until this unproven and unpopular industry disappear for good.

“Instead of shoving us down a dangerous path that inevitably leads to climate change, the government should invest in renewables and energy efficiency, an emerging industry that could create 24,000 jobs in the north west alone.”

In the context of the energy debate in Scotland, this decision in England follows the attempts by Ineos to get the Scottish Government to lift its moratorium on fracking. Last week the first ship of imported shale gas from the US arrived to the concern of campaigners in Scotland. 

The decision to allow fracking in areas of England is a far cry from the Conservative Party which in 2010 under the leadership of David Cameron's pledge to be the “greenest government ever.”

“The government should invest in renewables and energy efficiency, an emerging industry that could create 24,000 jobs in the north west alone.” Helen Rimmer

In 2014 it was revealed by an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative journalism that at least five people at a Conservative fund-raising dinner had financial or commercial links to the UK’s unconventional gas industry, including those who shared a table with the former energy minister Michael Fallon.

The company concerned was Shore Capita, a Mayfair based investment bank, which owns majority shares in several fracking firms, is 41 per cent owned by Howard Shore a controversial banker with well publicised Tory connections.

FoE has stated that it will continue to look into the decision and support the Preston community in their campaign to make sure the rest of Lancashire stays frack free.

According to their own survey only 19 per cent of people in the UK support shale gas compared to 81 per cent of those who support renewables.

Pat Davies, chair of Preston New Road Action Group, said: “This is a sad day as it is clear to all that this government neither listens nor can it be trusted to do the right thing for local communities.

“It is deplorable that an industry that has been rejected on every level has inflicted itself on Preston New Road.

“Westby Parish Council, Fylde Borough Council and Lancashire County Council planning committee all said no to this application. These reasons were based on facts and knowledge, they rejected the site as unsuitable.

“Dismantling the democratic process to facilitate a dirty fossil fuel industry when only months ago the UK committed to climate change targets in Paris is another example of saying one thing and doing another.

“Profit clearly comes before people. This decision will be scrutinised by many, not just the people of Lancashire and this travesty of justice will not be accepted. This is not the end. We will challenge this.”

Picture courtesy of Helen Rimmer and Mary Church

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