Our battle is far from over: reflections on the latest planning news

Following yesterday’s news that Lancashire County Council’s planning officers are recommending that Cuadrilla’s two planning applications should be rejected, RAFF’s Bob Dennett reflects on what this means for our campaign:

 

These applications represent a huge milestone for fracking in the UK and potentially the whole of Europe. Whilst it is a positive that LCC planners have recommended that the applications are rejected, this battle is far from over!!

The scope of the Planning Officer’s recommendation is not nearly wide enough as it only includes 2 fairly low level issues, noise and traffic levels, and completely ignores the much more important issues of Negative Impacts on human and animal Health, pollution the environment and climate change.

The Developing Infrastructure Delivery Plan for Fylde (June 2013) Renewable and Low Carbon Energy:

3.36 Lancashire is committed to becoming a low carbon economy and to reach the national goal of generating 15% of the UK’s energy needs from renewables by 2020. The drive towards increasing the deployment of renewable energy is as important for the achievement of economic and social imperatives, such as fuel security, job creation and addressing fuel poverty, as it is for environmental reasons.

3.37 The Lancashire Sustainable Energy Study was produced in April 2011 and updated in 2012 for all Lancashire authorities. The study concludes that Fylde has the deployable resource potential of 61 Megawatts (MW) by 2030, the equivalent of 5% of Lancashire’s deployable potential. Commercial scale wind provides the highest deployable potential in Fylde. Further information can be found in the Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Generation section of the Local Plan: Preferred Options document, and in the Lancashire Sustainable Energy Study (2012).

The North West Energy Task Force are making a lot of noise about jobs; well IF this goes ahead there will be approx 20 jobs per exploration site which will reduce to 1 to manage several production sites (the Elswick site is manged by one semi skilled worker on a part time basis). If Cuadrilla do get to complete their exploration at Plumpton and Roseacre they will employ imported skilled workers for the first year then possible a small handful for the production phase and these will be more than outweighed by the losses to tourism and agriculture.Whereas renewable energy sources such as wind, water and solar WILL provide hundreds of permanent jobs for years to come.

With regard to energy security, “the lights going out” and the Russian situation, the UK is not reliant on imports of gas from Russia, this is just scaremongering on the part of Government and industry. There is more than enough natural gas offshore to keep the UK going for over a hundred years at current consumption. If the Government were to lift the punitive windfall taxes that they imposed on the offshore industry the flow would be increased and they would lose their argument for shale. I am not suggesting that we continue to burn fossil fuels but we do not need shale gas as a “transition” to renewables” because shale will just make the carbon footprint even greater.

If the Councillors on the planning committee follow the advice and ignore the wider issues it will leave the gate wide open for the operator to appeal to the Secretary of State on the basis of minor issues and he is likely to “rubber stamp” the applications. The County Council planning procedure is the only place that the “Dash for gas” touches the democratic process so this will effectively subvert democracy.

We must not allow this to happen fracking started here we MUST END IT HERE.


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