Campaigners call on Greater Manchester MPs to vote No to fracking

23rd January 2015
news
release

Manchester Friends of the Earth is calling on all Greater Manchester MPs to support the vote for a moratorium on fracking across Britain when Parliament has the chance to vote on fracking legislation on Monday 26th January.

The Infrastructure Bill, which is coming before MPs for a crucial vote on Monday, includes a series of controversial measures to pave the way for fracking. But a new motion, backed by MPs including local Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) and John Mann (Labour), Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru) Julian Huppert (Lib Dem) and Caroline Lucas (Green) would, if passed, introduce a moratorium on fracking for up to two and a half years while the risks are assessed.[1]

The move comes as a petition – over a quarter of a million strong – was handed in to Downing Street to ask David Cameron to abandon his all-out push for fracking. The initiative, supported by a broad alliance of environmental groups including Friends of Earth, Greenpeace, and WWF, comes just days before the first Commons vote on fracking legislation [2] and a much anticipated
council decision on fracking in Lancashire.

The proposal follows the example of New York State, where a moratorium was introduced, while the state Government undertook a study into the health impacts of fracking. Following the two year review that found “serious health risks”, a ban was introduced in December 2014. [3]

Meanwhile the Labour Party has tabled a proposal to introduce a new set of dedicated fracking regulations into the Infrastructure Bill, something which doesn’t currently exist in the UK. A vote on these will also take place on Monday. However, Labour has not said whether there should be a moratorium while these new regulations are written.

Later next week [Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 January] Lancashire County Council’s development control committee will decide whether to give energy firm Cuadrilla the go-ahead to frack at two sites near Blackpool. If it allows fracking, Lancashire would become the first local authority to give the go-ahead to the controversial technique since a nationwide ban was lifted
by the Government in 2012. The council’s Planning Officer has recommended the applications be turned down because of local impacts. [4]

Manchester Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Ali Abbas said:  “It’s high time politicians called a halt to the Coalition Government’s reckless and irresponsible pursuit of fracking.

“Many other places around the world, from Paris to New York, have banned this controversial industry in light of overwhelming public opposition and mounting evidence of the risks to people’s health and the climate.

“We call on MPs across Greater Manchester to support this motion and put fracking on hold until the risks can be properly assessed.”

Yasmin Qureshi MP (Labour) said: “With evidence of health impacts increasing we urgently need a fracking moratorium in order to assess the risks to public health and the environment.
Fracking should not continue when regulation is not fit for purpose, and before we know if a global climate deal will be reached in Paris later this year.

“The public have serious concerns about fracking that need to be listened to. In Lancashire where the council is set to decide on whether to allow fracking imminently, two thirds of the public are opposed. The Government should follow the example of New York and bring in a moratorium so that the risks of fracking can be properly assessed.”

Caroline Lucas MP (Green) said:  “The impact of fracking is potentially vast. That’s why it’s so
important that the possible environmental, climate, health and economic impacts are fully assessed and acted upon. Heavily redacted impact reports are doing little to alleviate concerns.

“It’s crucial the public is in possession of all the facts: absolute transparency should be a given. As it stands, the Government is throwing caution to the wind on fracking and its vested interests are being prioritised above the public interest. Caution must be exercised, impartial evidence fully considered – and the public properly consulted. This amendment seeks just that: a simple, sensible risk assessment.”

ENDS

Contact for comments:

Ali Abbas, Manchester Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner, Mobile: 07786 090520
Pete Abel, Manchester Friends of the Earth Co-ordinator, Mobile: 07951 642858

Notes to Editors

1. The amendment to insert a new clause into the UK Infrastructure Bill is being proposed by Yasmin Qureshi MP (Labour) Julian Huppert MP (Lib Dem),  Hywel Williams MP (Plaid Cymru), Caroline Lucas MP (Green), John Mann MP (Labour), Mike Thornton MP (Lib Dem), Liz McInnis MP (Labour), Roger Godsiff MP (Labour), Martin Caton MP (Labour) and Geraint Davies (Labour).

The amendment would introduce a moratorium on fracking for between 18 and 30 months while a full assessment into the impacts on health, the economy, climate change and the environment takes place.

2. MPs will get the opportunity to vote on this amendment, as well as an amendment by Caroline Lucas MP calling for an outright ban on the unconventional gas industry and an amendment rejecting the Government’s proposals to allow companies to frack under people’s homes without
permission, at the Report Stage of the Infrastucture Bill on 26th January.

3. The call for a moratorium follows the example of New York State where a moratorium was introduced to allow an assessment of health concerns. The two year health review was followed by an outright ban on fracking in December 2014.

4. Lancashire County Council will decide next week whether to allow fracking in the Flyde. The council’s Planning Officer has recommended the applications be turned down because of local impacts. If it went ahead it would be the first fracking in Britain for over three years. Two thirds of
Lancashire residents are opposed.

See:  Lancashire planners recommend fracking applications should be refused (FoE)

5. Manchester Friends of the Earth is an award-winning environmental campaign group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on the group’s website: www.manchesterfoe.org.uk  Manchester Friends of the Earth is a Licensed Local Group of Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

6. Manchester Friends of the Earth has endorsed Manchester: A Certain Future, an action plan for the city of Manchester to cut its carbon emissions by at least 41% by 2020. For more information, visit  www.manchesterclimate.com