Opposition

Drilling election round-up: party manifestos, campaigner candidates, contested elections

Party manifesto mentions of onshore oil and gas (in alphabetical order)

Conservative

Our tax cuts have encouraged record levels of investment in existing North Sea gas, and the birth of a new industry, shale gas, which could create many thousands of jobs.

We will continue to support the safe development of shale gas, and ensure that local communities share the proceeds through generous community benefit packages. We will create a Sovereign Wealth Fund for the North of England, so that the shale gas resources of the North are used to invest in the future of the North.

Link to Conservative Party manifesto

Green

Three years ago we called for a moratorium on fracking-related activity while the environmental and economic impacts of drilling for shale gas were evaluated. On that basis, we are now emphatic and unambiguous in proposing an outright ban on fracking and related extreme energy technologies (coal-bed methane and underground coal gasification, as well as hydraulic fracturing).

Fracking is incompatible with the UK’s climate change obligations. There’s already around five times more fossil fuel globally than we can safely burn if are to avoid dangerous climate change. Encouraging a whole new fossil fuel industry is deeply irresponsible and undermines international efforts to secure a global climate agreement.

Fracking will put communities and our environment at risk. There are serious and legitimate concerns about the potential for fracking to cause water contamination, air pollution and harm to wildlife and public health. Fracking sites would entail mass lorry movements, blighting our countryside and villages.

Link to Green Party manifesto

Labour

For onshore unconventional oil and gas, we will establish a robust environmental and regulatory regime before extraction can take place.

Link to Labour Party manifesto

Lib Dem

The UK has significant stores of unconventional gas, which could be accessed through the process known as fracking. It is vital that efforts to access this gas be properly regulated to protect our natural environment.

Liberal Democrats in government have introduced the world’s most robust regulatory regime for unconventional gas, including banning drilling in National Parks, and will take two further steps to ensure any shale gas contributes to a faster transition to a low-carbon economy: establish a Low-carbon Transition Fund using 50% of any tax revenues from shale gas to fund energy efficiency, community energy, low-carbon innovation and renewable heat and require that once a shale gas well is finished it must be offered at no cost to geothermal heat developers, to enable faster expansion of this renewable technology.

Link to Lib Dem manifesto

Plaid Cymru

We want more caution and consideration taken before any further fracking is carried out.

Link to Plaid Cymru manifesto

SNP

Manifesto is due in the week starting 20th March. We’ll cover that when it happens.

UKIP

UKIP supports a diverse energy market including coal, nuclear, shale gas, geo-thermal, tidal, solar, conventional gas and oil.

Shale gas: time to get ‘fracking’ UKIP supports the development of shale gas, provided safeguards are in place to protect local communities and the environment. Community Infrastructure Levy income from shale gas operations will be earmarked for lower Council Taxes or local community projects. No energy extraction technology is perfectly safe, but shale gas operations in the USA for instance, where tens of thousands of shale wells have been drilled and fracked over five decades, have proved remarkably unproblematic, especially so by comparison to other methods of energy extraction.

The viability of this proposal clearly depends on several unknowns, not least getting the go-ahead for shale exploration and unpredictable market forces, but we feel it is important to state this policy as an intention. Should fracking in the UK prove to be possible and profitable, we want to see the nation’s income from it spent on looking after older people

What is clearly unsafe is the UK’s over-dependence on imports from politically unstable countries. In the interests of energy security alone, the prospect of home-grown shale gas is an enormous opportunity it would be irresponsible to ignore. We will levy Petroleum Revenue Tax (currently 50 per cent) on any shale profits and invest the income into a Sovereign Wealth Fund. Norway takes this approach, with great success.

Establishing a Sovereign Wealth Fund from the tax profits of fracking, and ring-fencing the income it generates for a social care fund, will potentially release older people from the distress of having to sell their homes to pay for care and give them and their families peace of mind.

Link to UKIP manifesto

Anti-drilling campaigners stand for election in West Sussex

Opponents of oil and gas drilling in West Sussex are contesting elections at national and local levels.

Beki Adam, a Sussex campaigner against fracking, is standing as an Independent in the general election for the Mid Sussex constituency.

Marcus Adams, who campaigned against Celtique Energie’s plans to drill at Fernhurst, is standing as an independent for the village in the election for Chichester District Council. John Buchanan, the chair of Frack Free Fernhurst, is standing in the uncontested election for Fernhurst Parish Council.

Katy Fletcher, of Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green, is standing as a Green Party candidate in Wisborough Green in the election for Chichester District Council. KKWG campaigned against Celtique Energie’s plans for an exploratory well between the two villages.

Kathryn McWhirter, a member of Frack Free Balcombe Residents’ Association, is contesting the Balcombe ward in the election for Mid Sussex District Council. See also Balcombe item below.

The Green Party opposes fracking and is fielding candidates in each of the West Sussex parliamentary constituencies and in many local council elections.

To see which parliamentary election candidates have signed the Friends of the Earth/Greenpeace Frack Free Promise click here

Balcombe gets first parish election this century

People in the West Sussex village of Balcombe, where Cuadrilla drilled for oil in 2013, will get the chance to vote for their parish council for the first time this century. Twenty candidates are standing in the election for the 11-seat council. Previous elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011 were uncontested because there were not enough candidates.

Among the candidates this time are: the outgoing chair of the council, Alison Stevenson; the owner of Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site, Simon Greenwood; and the chair and vice-chair of the Frack Free Balcombe Residents’ Association, Charles Metcalfe and Sue Taylor.

The retiring council was heavily criticised by some Balcombe residents in 2010 for not publicising or commenting on Cuadrilla’s original application to drill an exploratory well at Lower Stumble on the edge of the village.

Because the council did not object, the application did not go before the planning committee of West Sussex County Council and was decided instead by planning officers under delegated powers. The first public meeting on the application was held in January 2012.

Last year, the parish council conducted a poll of villagers on Cuadrilla’s most recent application to test the well and flare off gases. A small majority opposed the application and the council formally objected, The plans were approved by West Sussex County Council almost a year ago.

The full list of candidates in Balcombe can be seen here.

  • Across West Sussex, almost 80% of parish councils are not holding elections because there are not enough candidates. The largest number of elections will be in Arun district (36%) and the smallest in Horsham district (13%). There will be no parish council elections in Billingshurst, Pulborough or West Chiltington, the nearest West Sussex villages to the oil exploration site at Broadford Bridge, where Celtique Energie is preparing to drill. There will also not be elections in either Fernhurst, Wisborough Green or Kirdford, where Celtique applied, unsuccessfully, for permission for exploratory drilling. Nor will there be an election in Graffham, where IGas has early plans to drill on the site of a former oil well.

Quote of the day

“Shale is the third rail of British politics that no one wants to touch”

Nick Grealy, talking at Shale World UK conference in Birmingham

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