Conservative-controlled Trafford Council voted overwhelmingly last night to reaffirm its opposition to fracking until it is proved to be safe.
A motion submitted by the Labour group condemned the award of an exploration licence block in south Trafford to INEOS.
It also called on the council to write to the Energy Secretary and Oil and Gas Authority asking for the licence decision to be reconsidered.
Minor changes to the wording, put forward by the Conservative council leader, Sean Anstee, were approved by 57 of the 60-member council. Three councillors did not vote.
In November 2014, Trafford voted unanimously to oppose fracking until it could be proved to be safe and Cllr Anstee said that remained the policy of the council.
Gary Haywood, CEO of INEOS Shale, said this morning:
“We note the motion and will seek to meet with Trafford Council to introduce INEOS Shale and have a constructive dialogue on the merits of shale gas and how it can be extracted safely.”
“We must stop this process now”
Cllr Denise Western, who proposed last night’s motion, said, with opinion still divided on fracking, it was a risk to local air quality, the local environment and residents’ health.
“I am deeply concerned that government ministers are keen to see fracking take place.”
“We must not let this happen. We must stop this process and stop it now.”
Cllr Western, who represents Broadheath on the northern edge of the INEOS licence block, added:
“I urge all members to support this motion so that we send a strong message to the minister and the Oil and Gas Authority that regardless of their frantic dash for gas we in Trafford cannot support fracking until we know for certain that it is safe.”
“Burden on proof is on the frackers”
Cllr Andrew Western, the leader of the council’s Labour Group, accepting the changes to the wording, said:
“We want to stand as one in Trafford.”
“The burden of proof should be on the frackers. It should not be on the people who say it is not safe.”
Lib Dem councillor, Jane Brophy, who represents Timperley, also in the licence block, said:
“It is extremely disappointing that the Conservative government decided to sell the rights to fracking in south Trafford. This brings the real possibility of fracking to the doorsteps of Trafford residents.”
“We oppose planning developments such as fracking near residential areas because our residents come first.”
“We need a 21st energy revolution”
Cllr Brophy added that shale gas was not a solution to energy challenges. She said:
“We need a 21st century energy revolution not more fossil fuels that add to climate change. Let’s show some leadership in Trafford and end support for the use of fossil fuels and that includes shale gas and fracking.”
Conservative councillor, Nathan Evans, who also represents Timperley, said:
“I don’t support fracking but I’m not an anti-fracker”.
He criticised people who used exaggerated claims and inflammatory language to oppose fracking. He said:
“We are trying to make decisions on just conjecture.”
The exploration block in south Trafford is SJ78. As well as Timperley and Broadheath, it includes areas such as Altrincham and Hale.
It is part of a licence that also comprises block SJ77. INEOS has committed to drill one well and carry out new 2D and 3D seismic surveying across both blocks within the next five years.
This Council is deeply concerned by the announcement on the 17 December 2015 that the Conservative Government’s Oil and Gas Authority has awarded a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) to the company Ineos covering an area incorporating much of the south of Trafford. This is the first stage in a process that could ultimately lead to ‘fracking’ taking place in Trafford.
Council condemns the decision to award this licence and reaffirms its previous statement, as agreed by all parties on the 12 November 2014, that “The Council is opposed to ‘fracking’ until such time as it can be proved to be safe.” In light of this statement of opposition to hydraulic fracturing in Trafford, Council agrees to write to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and to the Oil and Gas Authority directly, outlining our concerns and asking that the decision to award this licence be reconsidered.
The council accepted the above wording with the following changes:
Paragraph 1: Replace “is deeply concerned” with “notes”
Paragraph 1: Remove “the Conservative Government’s”
Paragraph 2: Replace “condemns” with “is concerned about”