With 40+ marginal seats in more 170 English parliamentary constituencies potentially affected by oil and gas licences, the campaign network, Frack Free United, warned today that the impact of fracking on the election should not be underestimated.
The government appeared to be trying to neutralise fracking as a voting issue by announcing a moratorium three days after calling the poll.
But this afternoon, Frack Free United said more than 470 candidates in 340+ constituencies had signed a pledge to ban fracking in all its forms. This includes oil and gas stimulation using acid or smaller amounts of fluid than the current government definition of fracking.
The list includes well-known names committed to a fracking ban including: the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, the Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, and Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley of the Green Party.
The network said it had contacted every candidate on the Democracy Now public email list and tweeted as many as possible. It also asked its supporters to contact candidates to ask them to sign up.
The pledge was:
“If my constituency is at threat from fracking or any associated form of onshore unconventional oil and gas exploration, I will oppose it. If it is not a threat in my constituency I will oppose it nationwide.”
Key findings from the signatory list
- 474 candidates from 348 constituencies signed the Frack Free United pledge
- 157 signatories were from 99 constituencies with oil and gas licences
- 48 signatories were from 28 marginal constituencies
- The constituencies with the largest number of signatories were York Central (5 signatories) and Rother Valley (4).
There were 15 marginal constituencies with oil and gas licences that had no signatories.
- 44 signatories were MPs at the time the 2019 election was called
- Well-known figures who signed the pledge (in alphabetical order) included: Mike Amesbury (Labour, Weaver Vale); Jonathan Bartley (Green, Dulwich and West Norwood); Margaret Beckett (Labour, Derby South); Clive Betts (Labour, Sheffield South East); Jeremy Corbyn (Labour, Islington North); Tim Farron (Lib Dem, Westmoreland & Lonsdale); Barry Gardiner (Labour, Brent North); Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavillion), Justin Madders (Labour, Ellesmere Port and Neston); Dennis Skinner (Labour, Bolsover); Kat Smith (Labour, Lancaster & Fleetwood); Jo Swinson (Lib Dem, East Dunbartonshire); Emily Thornberry (Labour, Islington South & Finsbury); Alan Whitehead (Labour, Southampton Test).
The pledge was not signed by Mark Menzies (Conservative, Fylde) or Lee Rowley (Conservative, North East Derbyshire) who both campaigned actively against fracking in their constituencies.
- Not surprisingly, the party with the largest number of signatories, at 156, was the Green Party
- 140 Labour candidates signed the pledge, followed by 134 Lib Dems
- Seven Conservative and three Brexit candidates signed the pledge.
- Other signatories were from SNP (2), Yorkshire Party (3) and independents (11).
Call for ban on all extreme extraction
Frack Free United urged voters to support candidates who pledged to oppose all forms of extreme fossil fuel extraction in the UK, including a complete ban on all forms of fracking.
DrillOrDrop’s review of the election manifestos showed party attitudes to fracking ranged from a “ban on fracking and other unconventional fossil fuel extraction” (Greens) to “no support for fracking” from the Conservatives.
Labour called for an immediate and permanent ban on fracking, while the Lib Dems promised to ban fracking for good. The Brexit Party referendum had no reference to fracking, oil, gas, hydrocarbons, onshore exploration, drilling, climate or greenhouse gases,
Steve Mason, of Frack Free United, said:
“We are overwhelmed with the response in this election campaign, not just from areas impacted directly by licenses, but from all over the country. All of them signed up calling for a total ban on fracking in all its forms.
“It is becoming clear that to prevent the UK from developing a new fossil fuel industry, we must focus the minds of those who want power.
“We must continue to drive the message home in every election, so we can make policymakers aware of the strength of feeling against fossil fuel companies invading communities.
“That’s why we are urging people to support these Frack Free candidates on the campaign trail and at the ballot box. The list is growing day by day and we urge all candidates to pledge to ban fracking forever in the UK.”
Joe Corré, of the campaign group, Talk Fracking, said:
“The current moratorium on fracking has all the hallmarks of a trick to pause fracking for the election. Boris Johnson himself and his top team are all very pro-fracking. Jim Ratcliffe, whose owns INEOS, has said they are continuing with their plans to frack the UK as the biggest fracking licence holder. We have not won this fight yet and this election will be critical.”