23 August 2011
North-West Green Party members joined
campaigners from Central Lancashire Friends of the Earth on Wednesday
3rd August at a demonstration outside County Hall before the meeting
of Lancashire County Council's Development Control Committee.
The Committee had been due to discuss a
planning application relating to a controversial new industry - shale gas
‘fracking’ - which could affect many residents in Lancashire over the coming
years. Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, involves pumping water and chemicals
deep into the ground to fracture a layer of shale and force out natural gas
which would otherwise remain trapped within the rock. The process was initially
developed in the USA, where its environmental and health impacts have generated
a great deal of public concern and anger. The impacts including chemical
contamination of groundwater (a source of drinking water), and air pollution
leading to respiratory problems in communities living close to the drilling
Cuadrilla Resources has already begun exploratory drilling and fracking of the Bowland Shale which lies beneath large parts of Lancashire, and the UK Government looks set to issue licenses for more shale gas extraction across the UK. The French Government is concerned enough to have imposed a ban, and many people are now calling for the UK Government to do the same.
Discussion of the planning application lodged by Cuadrilla Resources was deferred until the next meeting of this committee, on 14th September 2011.
County Councillor Chris Coates, who took part in the demonstration, commented: “I was really pleased to hear about the decision to defer this matter. Cuadrilla have suspended fracking at Weeton (near Kirkham), pending further investigation of recent earthquakes which may have been caused by their operations, and it is important that councillors who sit on this committee have the fullest information about what this company is intending to do before any agreement is made to their request for a 12-month extension to exploratory drilling at the site.”
County Councillor Sam Riches, who was also present in the demonstration, added: “Further planning applications for drilling and fracking in other locations in Lancashire are expected in the future, and it is really important that people across the county are fully aware of the risks which seem to be associated with this technology. We need residents to talk to their county councillors about the issue and ensure that decisions are taken which really represent residents' wishes.”
Philip Mitchell of Blackpool & Fylde Green Party, who is a leading UK campaigner against onshore and unconventional gas, said: “We are approaching all the county councillors who sit on this committee, to make sure that they do not make any decisions 'on the nod' but are fully informed about this issue. Even excuding the risk of it triggering further earthquakes, fracking has too much potential to do harm to communities and the countryside across large parts of Lancashire. We all need to ensure that we do not start off on a path towards a future we won't want.”
For further information contact:
County Cllr Sam Riches email: phone: 07909 001432
Philip Mitchell email: phone: 07715 363587