Nearly 1,000 of the 3,990+ candidates standing in the general election have made a formal promise to oppose fracking in their constituencies, according to the latest figures from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.
Not surprisingly, the party with the largest number of candidates to sign the pledge is the Greens. The party makes up almost half of the signatures to the pledge organised by the two organisations. But 67 of Green Party hopefuls have not yet signed up. The Green Party manifesto called for a ban on fracking, arguing that it was incompatible with the UK’s climate change obligations.
The next largest group, on 180 candidates, is Other Parties, including 31 candidates who describe themselves as Independent.
Two Conservatives have defied party policy and signed the pledge, along with seven from UKIP, which also officially supports fracking. The Conservative candidates include Jason Mc Cartney, standing in Colne Valley. Elected to the seat in 2010 with a majority of nearly 5,000, he voted for a moratorium on fracking during a debate on the Infrastructure Bill. He also voted against the government in a debate on conditions for fracking in February.
The other Conservative to sign the pledge is William Wragg, a teacher and Stockport councillors. the Hazel Grove constituency was won by the Liberal Democrats at the last election with a majority of more than 6,000. Conservative Home says recent polling still puts the Lib Dems ahead but by a much reduced margin.
The seven UKIP candidates who have signed the pledge are: Geoffrey Bastin, Bexhill and Battle; Jeff Armstrong, Bolton South East; Stephen Priestley, Brent Central; Winston McKenzie, Croydon North; Clive Morrison, Hornsey and Wood Green; Alistair Forrest, Linlithgow and East Falkirk; Peter Bush, Aberavon. But they are a tiny proportion of the 620+ candidates being fielded by the party who have not signed up.
28 Plaid Cymru
137 Lib Dem
180 Other parties
Mixed reaction to Labour’s Green Plan from green groups
Labour 23-point Green Plan on climate, energy and environment, got some support from pressure groups – but the party got the thumbs down for supporting fracking.
The plan makes promises on insulating five million homes, decarbonising electricity supply by 2030 and prioritize the development of carbon capture and storage. It also includes a 25-year-plan for the recovery of nature and national adaptation programme to protect homes and businesses from extreme weather.
On fracking, the party is promises a “robust environmental and regulatory regime for the extraction of shale gas before it can take place”. It also promises to prevent shale gas development from degrading the natural environment or compromising climate change commitments.
Friends of the Earth’s head of politics Liz Hutchins welcomed the policy on insulating homes. But added: “Labour’s support for fracking is still wrong. Although it’s promise that fracking won’t undermine UK climate change commitments is a step forward, it should at least commit to a total moratorium until government climate experts report on the risks next year.
“The party should stop trying to balance support for fossil fuels and renewables and recognise that a transition away from dirty energy is what’s urgently required.”
Greenpeace’s UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “Labour’s green manifesto hits some real high notes by putting energy efficiency, grassroots energy, and ambitious targets to slash carbon emissions at the heart of the party’s vision. But this harmonious chorus is somewhat spoilt by a howling bum note: the party’s continued support for fracking, albeit conditional on tougher rules. Over 140 Labour candidates have already promised to oppose this controversial industry in their constituencies. They’ve listened to voters’ concerns. Now it’s time for Labour HQ to listen to its foot soldiers.”
United front on fracking in Vale of Glamorgan
The BBC reports on a hustings on fracking in Cowbridge, where six of the seven election candidates met to discuss the issue. Candidates from the Conservatives, Green Party, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and UKIP all explained how they opposed any fracking in future in the Vale of Glamorgan. The Green Party and Plaid Cymru want a total ban. The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour in Wales support more research and restrictions. The UKIP candidate is opposed to gas drilling in the area but not elsewhere.
Support Plaid Cymru where there are no Greens, Caroline Lucas urges Wales
Caroline Lucas urges Wales to support Plaid Cymru in seats where her Green Party has no candidate Wales Online reports Caroline Lucas has supported Plaid’s candidate for Arfon, Hywel Williams. Ms Lucas said: “I’ve worked with Hywel over the last five years and know him to be someone with a strong commitment to social and environmental justice. Just as Plaid Cymru have urged voters in England to back the Green party, if there is no Green candidate standing, I would urge Welsh voters to back candidates like Hywel Williams.”
Ed Milliband dismisses Labour splits on fracking
The Chester Chronicle reports that Ed Milliband, on a visit to Cheshire, played down apparent splits between the strongly anti-fracking position adopted by Labour candidate Chris Matheson and the national party’s stance of cautious support. He said: ‘Chris absolutely reflects the position that we’re taking. We’ve said that we won’t let fracking go ahead without a whole set of conditions being met and we put forward amendments in the House of Commons to secure those changes. “The government initially agreed to them, then abandoned their agreement, so we won’t let fracking go ahead without very strong environmental conditions being met.’
Despite little national election coverage on fracking, the issue is being discussed at local hustings.
Friends of the Earth has organised an environment hustings in Mid Sussex tonight.
In Ryedale, where Third Energy wants to frack, Frack Free Ryedale is encouraging its supporters to ask searching questions of the candidates.
Greenpeace has a nationwide list of hustings.