Saturday, 30 April 2016

Is fracking about to begin in Hyndburn because the government has been selling licences is the question I am being asked?

A recent Facebook post raised the issue of fracking and suggesting wrongly that licences for fracking had been granted in Hyndburn suggesting that fracking would now begin forewith. You can read my Facebook reply at the foot of this post.

My view is simple; if fracking is not safe then it should be banned. If it is safe then we have to ask questions about whether we want to take it out of the ground anyway?

Climate change and fossil fuel usage are big issues. However there are major issues in the fracking debate that are rarely raised. Questions that ought to be asked.

Relying on nuclear as a non-carbon energy source has its own problem (cost, safety, disposal) and reinforces an inefficient national grid. Relying on gas from other sources also has connected problems (Russia/Putin, dirty gas, effectiveness in reducing fossil fuel consumption in Hyndburn/Lancashire).


Then there is the issue of local energy sources. Whilst fracking is an important and concerning matter, not enough thought is being given to local alternatives. Prospects the local environmenatl charity who are given £100,000 to the best of my knowledge spends little if anything on alternative energy schemes. From solar panel subsidies to combined heat and power initiatives to supporting ground source heat pumps to energy conservation policies and schemes [including supporting local companies]. Nothing is being done by what is a well funded environmental group.

Other problems with fracking include local infrastructure and environmental considerations, water consumption, roads, blight etc.. Then there is the issue of community benefit. Either immediately adjacent to people around the sites in West Lancashire [where fracking is being tested] or the proposed community dividend from extractive profits. Here the government proposes to short change Lancashire in favour of the Westminster treasury and treasury national spend.

Finally there is the issue of regulation. The UK is not like the US or Australia and therefore sensible arguments need to be presented if UK fracking is to be scrutinised properly. The UK is proposing the tightest regulatory framework. Is it enough is open for a sensible debate. Sadly the leaflet pushed through Hyndburn doors failed to mention this or many other relevant points and wasn't instructive or helpful.

Most people wish for a sensible debate on all the issues raised above and of course the alternatives. I hope that as we debate the issue of fracking, concerns including the wider issues and what we can do to save the planet and it's precious ecosystem are paramount.

Regards,

Graham Jones MP

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Facebook reply to headline [and poster advertising a protest meeting] that licences have been granted to frack in Hyndburn;
What?!! Fracking near Ossy??? Graham Jones is this true???

No it's not true. This advert is a gross misrepresentation.

The government have decided to sell access rights via a license to get in money and allocate land on an exclusive basis. So it's more controlled. I do not agree with the government decision to sell these licences at this time though that is a minor issue in the bigger picture.

The licences do not give any permissions in any way to frack. There is only one way to get permission and that is an application to Lancashire County Council who have been turning them down more recently. Applications passed a while back were only for exploration under restriction.

Lancashire County Councils refusal to give any permission to frack recently is leading to the (Tory) government considering taking powers off local people (LCC) and letting the government decide instead.

As it stands now without 1. A license 2. A fracking company putting in money and 3 putting in an application to LCC and crucially 4 being given planning permission then no fracking will occur.

Worth adding test applications that were past are to the highest standard in the world where's the U.S. has the lowest standard. There's a huge difference and the tight regulations here in the UK has almost seen off the the fracking industry in the UK except for offshore where fracking has happened for years.