Opposition

Lancashire anti-fracking campaigners call on PM to honour promise on fighting injustice

pnr14

A group campaigning against fracking at a site near Blackpool has called on the Prime Minister to honour her pledge to fight burning injustice and stand up for all, not just the privileged few.

Theresa May made the promise in her first statement as Prime Minister in Downing Street in July this year.

But the Preston New Road Action Group said “for Lancashire this is now proven to be empty rhetoric”.

The group was responding to the decision, announced a week ago by the Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, to give the go-ahead for fracking at a site at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton. He overturned the refusal of planning permission by Lancashire County Council in June last year.

Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) said in a statement:

“This ‘burning injustice’ has in fact been perpetrated by her own government ministers on our community to benefit the privileged few.

“Preston New Road Action Group and Lancashire asks Theresa May to stand by her words.”

“No mandate to frack”

PNRAG said the UK government did not have a mandate from the public to frack. The statement said:

“The UK government cannot purport to represent the country’s views on fracking when every opinion poll shows most people don’t want it. Where is the mandate from the people to frack?

“A government’s sacred duty is to be accountable, represent and uphold the rights of all people, not just the privileged few. Nor should the corporate industries hell-bent on profit at any cost, be more important than local people.”

The group said Mr Javid has revoked their right to shape their community.

“That is not democracy in action. Britain has in the past, been held up as a democracy to be proud of. Now, many people will shake their heads at what we have become.”

“Stand by localism”

The group also called on its MP, Mark Menzies, to stand by his support for local decision-making.

“He said he would protect localism and that the Lancashire planning decision must be upheld.

“What is he going to do to protect local residents’ interests? His position and office require him to take action now.”

After the announcement, Mr Menzies said he was disappointed with the decision and he said he would continue to press the government to ensure there was adequate resources for monitoring.

In parliament today, he asked the Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom:

“Will she assure me that the Environment Agency will conduct immediate on-the-spot inspections, and that many of them will be unannounced? What powers does the Environment Agency have to close down a site if it finds it to be in breach of regulations?”

Mrs Leadsom replied:

“I am very happy to reassure my hon. Friend that we have a robust regulatory framework in place to ensure that shale exploration is carried out in a safe, sustainable and environmentally sound manner. The Environment Agency can undertake announced and unannounced inspections, and if there is any breach of a permit condition or a serious risk to people or the environment, it can take a number of enforcement actions, including the immediate ceasing of operations.”

Updated 14/10/2016 with parliamentary question by Mark Menzies and reply from Andrea Leadsom

 

20 replies »

  1. Mike Hill stood in the last general election in the Fylde as an “anti-fracking” candidate? I see he got less votes than even UKIP and the Conservative pro fracker (?) Mr. Menzies won with a massive majority (21,000 votes vs just over 8,000 for Mr Hill, the Greens & Lib Dems combined). And apparently he spent more on his campaign than any of the other candidates.

    http://www.fylde.gov.uk/council/elections-and-electoral-registration/elections/parliamentary-election/

    This does not seem to demonstrate overwhelming opposition to fracking in the area?

    This came up on another post on this blog when I was asked if I knew Mr. Hill (I don’t). But I am interested to know how Mr. Menzies could get such a huge majority when he represnts a clearly pro fracking party?

    I expect the result might be different today – but what has really changed?

    • I’m intrigued Paul. I mentioned Mike Hill and you immediately went into dirt digging mode. I saw him make some interesting comments on a documentary, which I suspect were accurate, but what I’m seeing is a wall of defensiveness. Is/was it part of your job to rule various submissions to a planning hearing ‘out of court’ or inadmissible (based on sources or credentials or whatever). That’s exactly what they do in the US to make sure planning proceeds unhindered by objections – they have a range of techniques to render some quite serious objections, complaints, and complainers as non-credible or invalid.

  2. Paul, as you may be aware (I don’t know where you live – maybe you can enlighten us?) the Fylde is a very tru-blue Conservative area. In this constituency “they would elect a baboon with it’s @rse hanging out of ts trousers if it wore a blue rosette”. Not my words – that came from a bastion of the local Tory party. A less graphic description tells us Fylde is “An extremely safe Conservative seat. Including the period between 1950 and 1983 when Fylde was divided into two seats it has been held by the Conservatives since the creation of the original Fylde seat in 1918. An independent anti-fracking candidate, Mike Hill, got twelve percent of the vote here in 2015, one of the strongest performances for an independent candidate.”

    Mr Menzies was elected on a manifesto of which fracking formed a very small part, and indeed he voted against fracking in the Dec 2015 vote. A vote for Menzies can hardly be reasonably presented as a vote for fracking, however desperate the frackers may be to claim local support. In reality, he’s been on the fence so long that you can see the fence posts through his teeth.

    In fact Menzies polled 21,406 to Mike Hill’s 5,166, but to place that into context you have to realise that 5,166 is nearly ten times the average vote for an independent in that election and that he was one of the highest polling independents in the whole of the UK. He did pretty well for a single issue candidate.

    And not bad considering the smear campaign that was unleashed against him by the pro-fracking fraternity – fake facebook pages, rants from Guido Fawkes, sneery posters on a local UKIP supporter’s land etc etc. It was all pretty unedifying stuff.

    I agree that the result would probably be different today. What has changed is that people are becoming increasingly aware of the issues and fracking is becoming ever more unpopular as the UoN poll showed only yesterday. The next wave of the DECC/ BEIS polling should be interesting, but what will be really telling is what happens in the polling conducted after Mr Javid’s decision. We’ll have to wait for that, but my bet is that it really won’t make happy reading for the pro-frackers.

    • I live in Lancaster. We had a good Labour MP, Geraldine Smith for a while. Last two elections we got David Morris, Conservative. We are apparently a huge anti fracking constituency (might be true as we have the University and a lot of Green Party Councillors). So how did David Morris get re-elected when he is part of the pro-fracking party? I think the answer is as you put it above, shale gas and fracking are way down the list of people’s concerns. Jobs and the economy are what people are voting for.

  3. Its always interesting to see the environmental situation in a wider world view, it gives us a different perspective and opens up some issues not even usually considered in these pages. Some may see this as off subject, however i am more interested in why the government and pro-frackers here are so certain that renewable resources will not be sufficient for the task. And its not what you think, it seems there are bigger issues here, so big in fact that we may begin to wonder what sort of ecological nightmare is being perpetrated by those who we allow to run the world for us. Watch this and see what i mean, and try to stick with it, you may see some aspects that certainly i had not considered before. I now begin to wonder just how much of this is known by those who support this industry?

    • Loved the Cicero quote but it’s generally a little off topic Phil. Geoengineering (misleading name) is addressing the atmospheric chemtrail experiments that are attempting to find ways of manipulating climate using airborne means. Hence all that stuff about aluminum. The methane, volotile organics and heavy metal contamination around fracking sites endangers plant and animal life, and human health, in different ways.

      • Hi Philip, yes I agree, what caught my attention however was the information that wind and solar farms were reporting drastically lower outputs than predicted because of the atmospheric geoengineering activities of governments and militaries across the world. Some 80% loss due to these activities. That perhaps explains why the fracking industry is so certain that renewables would not do the job. My thinking was that if the industry knew this, then the last ditch attempt to extract shale gas to make up for that is at least understandable. Also that the ecology is all ready screwed so why should they care about hammering more nails in the coffin? The Cicero qote was an added bonus.

          • Full moon last night peeny? The erudite and witty cry of the were- moth flutters against flickering street lamp of literacy in the dark.

        • Phil. It seems like a curved ball to introduce data from such a different activity. It will only confuse. I’d like people to see the stacks of evidence of real life experiences from the States – from fracking activity – i.e the views from the real people affected, even some who’ve benefited financially. There’s a lot of anger and frustration. Most stories are moving, some tragic, nearly everyone saying they weren’t given the full story about fracking and that they were lied to about the risks to health and property.

          • I understand that, however Carl Sagan said, if you start off studying an ant, you end up studying the universe.
            I shall
            narrow my focus in future.

  4. Give it a break. There are a lot more injustices that deserves more attention and action than losing an appeal on planning permission that was decided on a small inconvenience over a few decibels and a few more trucks on the road for a few weeks

    • We will decidedly not ‘give it break’ or you for that matter, since when did you become the arbiter on who does what?

    • What is ‘it’ and why do you want it broken? Fascinating you admit yourself that ‘it’ is an injustice TW? Perhaps a frackture would do?

      • It’s not just an ‘injustice’. This decision has set a precedent for total disregard for local democracy. So much for ‘localism’.

        • Agreed Pauline, i was interested to see that even TW admitted even in his attempt to diminish it, stated that it was an injustice. These attempts to impose the travesty of democracy, more like a ‘corrupt demonocracy’ in government just betrays their corruption and contempt for democracy at all levels.I was also fascinated by the crack about a ‘few’ decibels, a ‘few’ more trucks on totally unsuitable roads for a ‘few’ weeks. Perhaps he does not want to mention a ‘few’ more more potentially fatal accidents as a result, a ‘few’ more poisoned water supplies which will never be reversed, a ‘few’ more acres of poisoned land which will never be clean again, a ‘few’ more cubic kilometers of poisoned air, a ‘few’ more wild animals sickened and destroyed, a ‘few’ more adults and children’s health compromised, a ‘few’ more vilages towns and landscapes polluted and rendered unsafe and their properties rendered worthless, And a few more of our rural counties self determination destroyed and laid waste to. That’s a ‘few’ too many for anyone’s stomach.

  5. For those that are interested the letters concerning the costs of the appeals claimed by Cuadrilla against the Council are now posted and can be downloaded from the following link:

    https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/ViewCase.aspx?Caseid=3130923&CoID=0

    Conclusions
    Appeal A – PNREW
    72. I consider that unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary expense, as described in the Planning Practice Guidance, has not been demonstrated and I therefore conclude that an award of costs is not justified.
    Appeal B – PNRMW
    73. I consider that unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary expense, as described in the Planning Practice Guidance, has been demonstrated and I therefore conclude that a full award of costs is justified.
    Recommendations
    Appeal A- PNREW
    74. I recommend that the application for an award of costs be refused.
    Appeal B – PNRMW
    75. I recommend that the application for a full award of costs be allowed.

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