A group of environmental campaigners hand-delivered warnings to every UK MP yesterday that they could be in breach of their code of conduct by supporting fracking.
The group visited Downing Street to serve a legal notice on the Prime Minister. On the same day boxes of personally-addressed copies of the notice were delivered to the House of Commons mail room for the 649 other MPs.
Each notice was accompanied by a copy of a report by the charity Medact (link) on the health impacts of fracking. This drew attention to more than 450-reviewed publications and said “a significant majority indicate potential risks or actual adverse health effects associated with shale gas development”. The report recommended halting shale gas development in the UK until a more detailed health and environmental impact assessment had been carried out.
This is the second time MPs have received formal warnings about fracking and their duty of care. In January 2015, during the passage of the Infrastructure Act, Jojo Mehta, of Frack Free Five Valleys, mailed letters to them containing a warning about risks and harms of fracking. (Link)
Yesterday, she was joined by the Lancashire anti-fracking campaigner, Gayzer Frackman. He was on the 22nd day of a hunger strike in Whitehall calling for a ban on fracking.
Ms Mehta said:
“All public servants in the UK have a duty of care and that is to act in the public interest. It means not doing any harm. So if they continue to promote fracking in the knowledge that it can bring harm then that can constitute a breach of their duty of care and their code of conduct.”
“We delivered to House of Commons mail room so that we know that they will actually be delivered to each of our MPs. That means that they have legally been served. Legally they cannot claim that they have not seen these reports. They cannot claim that they did not know that fracking is dangerous.”
The MPs’ Code of Conduct (link) requires:
“Members have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents.”
“Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest.”
Gayzer Frackman, who spoke at the inquiry into Cuadrilla’s applications to frack in Lancashire, said:
“My community has been living in fear now for over two years and these are just regular ordinary people.”
“I don’t want any other community to have to go through it. We still have a chance to end it in this country. There’s been no fracking going on for over five years now and that’s just down to communities.
“They’re the backbone, they’re the people that work many hours a day. Why? Because they’re fighting for their communities and they’re fighting for their children’s futures.”
Ms Mehta and Mr Frackman were joined by Emily Shirley, of Safety in Fossil Fuel Exploitation Alliance, and Shahrar Ali, deputy leader of the Green Party.