The government must rethink its plans on fracking – our petition
In response to the government’s decision to lift the moratorium on fracking, CPRE has launched a new petition with 38 Degrees calling on the Prime Minister to ensure communities have the final say on any application in their area.
The government wants to fast-track fracking against the wishes of local communities who have rejected it time and time again.
Fracking is a huge threat to our countryside and wildlife. It industrialises our landscapes and fuels climate change. Rural communities have already endured a host of disturbances from the minimal fracking operations that have taken place in the past decade – no wonder it’s the least popular form of energy generation.
The prime minister has guaranteed fracking would only take place with local consent. But all signs are pointing to it being fast-tracked through the planning process, paired with a fundamental misunderstanding that paying communities to accept fracking is the same as consent.
CPRE has long campaigned against fracking, joining similarly minded organisations and local activists to win a moratorium in 2019. The extraordinary campaigning efforts by people and communities up and down the country, including CPRE local groups, meant that we were able to apply intense pressure on MPs and government. In the end, common sense prevailed, and fracking was halted.
Fracking risks harming our environment in significant ways and represents a threat to our precious countryside. It can pollute waterways and soils and it causes air and sound pollution. The safety of fracking still hasn’t been verified either; a recent leaked report confirms that very little progress has been involved in mitigating earthquake risk. Fracking accelerates the climate emergency by releasing greenhouses gases and further prolongs our dependence on fossil fuels. Instead we should be focusing on the rapid roll out of clean, green energy and well-insulated homes.
Defining local consent
This time round, the situation has got even worse. Liz Truss’ government is attempting to fast-track fracking in the name of the cost of living and energy crises; citing it as a necessary solution. While the government has suggested that fracking will only take place ‘with local consent’, there is no detail on how this will be achieved. In fact, the Prime Minister still hasn’t been able to confirm how consent will be sought. So far, the government’s definition of consent seems to equate to monetary compensation which CPRE does not regard as consent.
We’re working with local communities across England who have genuine concerns about fracking taking place in their area, and are worried that they won’t have a say.
Hilary Newport, Director of CPRE Kent, said:
‘Our local experience is of the Kent and Sussex Weald. In this area, where shale deposits exist, they are often close to the underground aquifers that supply the environment and population of the area, through extraction from boreholes or by feeding the headwaters of the area’s rivers and wetlands.
‘The geology in this area is variable but is characterised by underground faults that are already the cause of structural weakness. Fracking in this area would undoubtedly trigger more fractures. Whatever the above-ground seismic consequences might be, the below-ground impacts could be catastrophic if the result was failures of fracking boreholes, causing irreversible pollution of essential water resources.
‘All fracking boreholes leak eventually, mostly within 30 years. Some fail far more quickly. On top of its inherent seismic instability this region is already classified as ‘severely water-stressed’ by the environment energy and to lose one or more of our sources of water supply would be a catastrophe now and for generations to come.’
Commenting on fracking in Sussex, CPRE Sussex Director Brian Kilkelly adds:
‘The people of Sussex do not want their beautiful countryside torn up, and pumped with poison, all for the sake of more climate wrecking fossil fuels. Allowing the limited oil reserves below Sussex’s wonderful countryside to be exploited for private profit will not fuel a single power station, will contribute nothing to our national energy security or to reduce energy costs. We will hold this government to their promise that licences will only be granted with the support of local communities.’
Fracking is not viable
It’s not just the environmental concerns that the government needs to hear, it’s whether fracked fuel is a viable source of energy in the UK. Founder of Cuadrilla Resources was recently quoted as saying that fracking simply wouldn’t work in the UK. Despite the Prime Minister’s assertion that fracking could produce gas within six months, the Independent reports that one firm (Island Gas) confirmed that the process could take up to 18 months. Further dismantling the government’s claims, it’s also unlikely that fracking will have any impact on energy prices. The Chancellor said in February:
‘Additional UK production won’t materially affect the wholesale market price. This includes fracking – UK producers won’t sell shale gas to UK consumers below the market price. They’re not charities’
We are working at both national and local levels to challenge the government’s fracking plans. As with our previous winning campaign we are working with other organisations to generate a powerful and unified lobbying voice on behalf of people, wildlife and landscapes.
Our petition, which is hosted by our campaign partners 38 degrees, wants Liz Truss to ensure local people have the final say. Local communities have rejected fracking time and time again, and we stand with them once more to ensure that their voice is heard.