17th June 2014
Vivienne Westwood and organisers of the We Need To Talk About Fracking debates have arranged a second meeting in London after no politicians or industry representatives took part in last night’s event in London.
The sell-out audience at Central Hall Westminster heard from six opponents of fracking. But there were no supporters of the industry on the panel. No one from the industry or politics took part in four debates last week either, in Manchester, Glasgow, Nottingham and Swansea.
Dame Vivienne said: “Despite out best efforts to invite policy makers, MPs, local government and members of the fracking industry they declined to take part. This is particularly alarming because we know that the majority of British people do not know what fracking is.”
“We want to give the policymakers of government and industry a further opportunity to take part so we have rebooked the Central Hall, Westminster in a month’s time and we are hopeful that this time they will attend.”
The pre-publicity for the London event said Dan Byles MP, the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Unconventional Gas and Oil, would be on the panel. He often speaks at conferences about the benefits of fracking.
Dame Vivienne’s son, Joe Corre, said: “Some praise should be given to Dan Byles MP because he was initially very enthusiastic about joining in the panel and talking to us. But he was not able to persuade anyone else to come with him.”
The panelists who were at the meeting included Tina-Louise Rothery, of Residents Against Fylde Fracking, environmental researcher Paul Mobbs, John Ashton, formerly a special representative for climate change at the Foreign Office, Community Project Manager Millie Darling, Liz Arnold, an anti-fracking campaigner from Pennsylvania, and Michael Stein, founder of the Trillion Fund, a crowd financing scheme for renewable energy projects.
Their points included: the impact of fracking on climate change, the risks to human health, communities and water contamination and supply, the lack of democratic accountability in decision-making and the use of studies with poor research methodologies. (Report on the debate arguments.)
The case in favour of fracking was left to a member of the audience, Dr Nick Riley. He is a director of Carboniferous Ltd, a consultancy providing expertise on hydrocarbon, mineral and civil engineering activities.
Dr Riley had about ten minutes to address the points made by the panellists. He said: “There has been so much said tonight. I don’t know where to start.” He argued for more renewable energy and said Britain needed to move to a zero carbon future. But he said there was a lot of over-optimism about the ability of renewables to supply the energy that Britain needed.
The We Need To Talk About Fracking debates have been funded by Dame Vivienne, Joe Corre’s charitable trust Humanade, and Lush Cosmetics.
The second London debate is at Central Hall Westminster, on July 14th. Tickets will again be free. More details at http://www.talkfracking.org/