Greens unearth Government plans to frack Exeter

Stop Fracking PlacardExeter Green Party has warned that homeowners in the city should brace themselves for fracking beneath their homes. 

Exeter, together with East Devon and Torquay, are currently listed by the Government as areas under offer for fracking licenses.[1] Green’s say that new legislation contained in the Government’s Infrastructure Bill [2] will give the green light to fracking underneath the city.

The Bill, which could be passed on Monday, includes legislation that would give oil and gas companies sweeping new powers to frack across the UK and allow shale gas pipelines to run under private land without seeking homeowners’ consent. Operators would only have a voluntary obligation to alert homeowners and offer so-called ‘compensation’ to communities.

Diana Moore, Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Exeter, said:”Fracking is an extreme form of gas extraction that literally means breaking up the ground under our feet, our homes, our fields. To allow fracking companies to drill under people’s homes and land without their permission is to ignore public interest in pursuit of the vested interests of a few.”

Fracking Licence MapThe environmental and health dangers associated with fracking have been highlighted by communities’ experiences in the USA and Australia[3]. A fracking ban in New York State was recently introduced due to health risks.[4] Ms Moore added:

“The proposed benefits of fracking such as solving fuel poverty, addressing manufacturing decline, ‘keeping the lights on’ and providing jobs are over-hyped. We need a rapid shift to a zero carbon energy supply by 2030 and that is not going to happen by pouring resources into creating a whole new fossil fuel industry. Fracking will be an environmental and economic disaster.”

Green MP, Caroline Lucas is part of a cross party group of ten MPs who will propose a motion [5] for a moratorium on fracking in Parliament on Monday (26 January 2015). She will also call for an amendment to the Bill to reduce the risk of carbon budgets being breached. Ms Lucas, who was arrested last year when she took part in demonstrations against fracking in Balcombe, is also pushing for an outright ban on fracking and a further amendment rejecting the Government’s proposals to allow companies to frack under people’s homes without permission.

Labour has said it will oppose fracking only when certain conditions are not met [6]; this includes ensuring drinking water protection zones are ruled out from fracking. However, Greens are calling on Labour to toughen their stance. Diana Moore said:

“Labour’s suggestion for a ban on fracking near aquifers used for drinking water doesn’t go far enough. As the risks to the environment, our health and climate change are so high, we need Exeter’s current MP, Ben Bradshaw, to back Caroline Lucas’ call for a total ban on this dangerous extraction method and vote against the Bill.”

Notes1. Fracking licensing map – based on data from DECC  Exeter East Devon and Torquay are included in the 14th Round Block Options 2. The Infrastructure Bill is currently in the House of Lords and will be considered by MPs at its report stage and third reading on 26 January 2015. Infrastructure Bill:  Existing trespass laws suggests prior permission is needed but the new Infrastructure Bill would amend trespass laws to abandon the need for permission from homeowners. 3. Fracking, a controversial technique for extracting fossil fuels, is widely opposed in countries where it takes place  4. In New York State a moratorium was introduced to allow an assessment of health concerns. The two year health review was followed by an outright ban on fracking in December 2014.5. A cross party group of MPs calls for a moratorium on fracking. Details can be seen. See clause 686. Labour Party amendment see new clause NC 19


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