Chris Broome has written to the Sheffield Star about local plans for fracking:
Nottinghamshire Councillors have been asked to vote against fracking plans for Misson Springs. That particular decision has been delayed until next month. this request has become more directly relevant to Sheffield. Ineos holds the licences to explore for onshore gas and oil here and is now looking to carry out seismic tests in the Mosborough and Eckington area, before drawing up specific fracking plans.
Councillors are placed in a difficult position by planning guidelines that oblige them to be generally supportive of Government policy in their decision making. Yet they, along with the public as a whole, are becoming increasingly aware that national policy is not based on sound and objective consideration of the evidence available. It is based on an unrealistic vision of cheap and abundant supplies of gas that Ministers do not want anything to get in the way of. Most notoriously, a report last year showing that fracking would seriously affect house prices and the rural environment was initially ignored, then, following public pressure, published with key passages redacted and finally published in full.
The Government also asked for a study on whether shale gas development could fit within national carbon budgets, rather than whether they would help us achieve them. The answer was a qualified yes, providing more action is taken in other sectors to reduce carbon emissions – in other words, fracking would make it more difficult to meet our targets. Since then, such action has been conspicuous by its absence.
The Royal Society provided advice on regulation and recommended strictly independent monitoring of operations. But with both the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency short of staff to carry out this task, the industry will largely be left to monitor itself. Former mineworkers have been shocked to learn of this minimalist approach to safety of operations.
We urge everyone and especially our elected representatives to wake up to the damage that widespread fracking would cause and make a firm stand against it.