I’m Andrew Cooper, a Councillor in Huddersfield and the Green Party’s National Energy Spokesperson.
I was in Northallerton when the Kirby Misperton Fracking Application was being considered. The evidence was poured over for 2 days and North Yorkshire County Council were well prepared. They set up 2 enclosed areas outside County Hall in Northallerton both were considerately provided with Portaloos. One area was set aside for the Protestors and another area was set aside for the Fracking supporters. Now I’m pretty sure that no one used the Portaloos on the Fracking supporters side due to the simple fact that there was no one there to make use of these facilities. What did happen in Northallerton to the shame of the County Council was the decision to allow Fracking near the village of Kirby Misperton. The decision was met with disbelief. Of course given the same evidence as a Councillor with years of planning experience I would have voted against.
On my own Council, Kirklees, I am proposing an addition to our Local Plan documents so when 3rd Energy or Cuadrilla put an application in our area, to extract shale gas they will have to demonstrate that their application will not result in a net addition to CO2 emissions. Now I don’t think that’s possible but at a time when we have the 14th or 15th highest global temperatures ever, I believe they should have to prove it as a part of any planning application.
Now a word for my Labour opposite number Lisa Nandy MP the Labour Opposition Energy and Climate Change Secretary (Is she still? I don’t know) Her response to the Kirby Misperton decision was this,
“ We need robust rules to offer communities reassurance that the environmental risks will be properly managed.”
Labour doesn’t get it. Even if you trusted the companies reassurances, even if you regulated it to somehow or other make it safe, you still cannot manage the environmental risks of extracting and burning more fossil fuels when we need to keep those fuels in the ground. Our local and global environments simply cannot afford to let fracking happen. It must not happen.
The alternatives to fracking are available now. Energy efficiency, insulation are the way we should be ensuring our energy security, by making homes warmer and reducing energy demand, but Government has cut funding massively for these measures while keeping energy demand high and reducing costs for those poor hard pressed energy companies.
So we have the wrong energy priorities from Government, a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem with fracking from the opposition. So it comes down to us. We are the people and we are the ones who are going to have to stand tall, to speak truth to power. Simply being right is not enough. We must challenge robustly every application, every proposal, exercise our right to peaceful civil disobedience and protest, refuse to pay fines. Make a nuisance of ourselves.
2016 has been a bloody awful year so far. Friends let us come together, let us be united and let’s tell them NO Fracking Way!