Will fracking be a political turn-off in Lancashire marginals?

Candidates who support fracking in marginal seats could face an electoral backlash, according to Greenpeace following polling in Lancashire.

A survey in the county found that 39% people who took part were less inclined to vote for a candidate who supported fracking in their constituency. Another 21% were much less inclined. 24% were more included to vote for pro-fracking candidates, the survey found.

57% of those surveyed wanted polticians to support clean energy, compared with 17% for fracking. 48% thought pro-fracking incumbents could lose their seats because of their support for the process.

Based on the polling, Greenpeace has identified eight marginal seats in Lancashire where, it says, incumbents could be in trouble. In all the seats, the majority candidates at the last election have neither publicly opposed fracking in the constituency, nor voted for a moratorium.

Morecambe and Lunesdale

The closest fight is likely to be in Morecambe and Lunesdale, where David Morris (Cons) had a majority of 866 in 2010. He would lose the seat with a swing away from the Conservatives of 1.24%. In the constituency, 42% of those polled said they were less included to support a pro-fracking candidate, compared with 18% who were more inclined. 62% of those surveyed preferred politicians who supported renewables, compared with 11% who preferred a pro-fracking candidate.

Other candidates that Greenpeace believes are at risk are: Gordon Birtwistle (Lib Dem) in Burnley, Lindsay Hoyle (Lab) in Chorley, Gordon Marsden (Lab) in Blackpool South, Paul Maynard (Cons) in Blackpool North, Graham Jones (Lab) in Hyndburn, Andrew Stephenson (Cons) in Pendle and Jake Berry (Cons) in Rossendale and Darwen. More details

Greenpeace UK energy and climate campaigner Louise Hutchins said:

“Fracking is proving to be a massive turn-off for Lancashire voters, and candidates backing it could end up paying a significant price at the ballot box. Three times more Lancashire people want their politicians to support safe, clean energy instead of the risky gamble that is fracking. Candidates should listen to their local communities and promise to oppose this dangerous industry in their constituencies.”

  • Following an email invitation, Redshift Research interviewed 2,082 Lancashire residents online in April 2015.

Fylde and Lancaster & Fleetwood

In the Lancashire seats of Fylde and Lancaster & Fleetwood, which cover the area where Cuadrilla wants to frack for shale gas, at least half the candidates have publically committed to opposing fracking in their constituency.

In Fylde, four of the seven candidates have signed the Greenpeace/Friends of the Earth frack-free promise. They are Labour’s Jed Sullivan, Independent Michael Hill (standing on an anti-fracking ticket), the Green’s Robert Dennett and Elizabeth Clarkson of the Northern Party. The incumbent, Mark Menzies (Cons), who had a majority of more than 13,000 at the last election, has not signed. Nor has the Lib Dem Fred Van Mierlo or UKIP’s Paul White.

In Lancaster and Fleetwood, the incumbent, Eric Ollerenshaw (Cons), who had a majority of 333 in 2010, has signed the frack-free promise. Other candidates to sign are Labour’s Cat Smith, the Green’s Chris Coates and Lib Dem Robin Long. UKIP’s Matthew Atkins and Harold Danie Hope Ellerston of the Northern Party have not signed.

Welcome for teaching union vote against fracking

The Lancashire branch of the NUT has voted unanimously at its AGM for a ban on fracking.

Referring to the findings of the Public Health Review of New York State last year, the union motion said: “It is clear that the unknown level of health risks in our schools to pupils and those working in schools, the community, animals and environment is such that fracking should not proceed here either.”

A group of parents and friends of Weeton St Michael’s C of E Primary School, close to one of Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking sites, welcomed the vote. A spokesperson said:

“We are delighted that the NUT has recognised the significant health implications of hydraulic fracturing in the Fylde area. Having several schools within such close proximity to the proposed fracking sites, the risk factors to the health of pupils, teachers and surrounding residents is unquantifiable. Cuadrilla has made no reference to potential health impacts in their assessments. The precautionary principle should be applied and planning permission must be refused by Lancashire County Council.”

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