Saturday, 28 November 2015

Fracking... and the strange death of Localism?

The contradictions between the UK government's espousal of 'localism' and its championing of fracking have been noted from very diverse commentators over the last couple of years:

The death of Localism and the rise of fracking?

Monday, 13th July 2015

We may have witnessed the death of ‘Localism’ today, as the Government seems to be in no doubt that it needs less red tape...

Thousands of jobs are forecast by Government from shale gas exploration and energy security is a central goal, but to date local communities have rejected all approaches. Perhaps the colour of money may change minds, if not hearts.”

The other changes announced amount to a range of Government powers to coerce local authorities into speeding up local plan preparation and delivery of decisions, or risk fines and losing control to centralised decision-making. None of this will sit well with communities and neighbourhoods who wish to decide their own futures.”

The death of Localism and the rise of fracking? - netMAGmedia Ltd

Fracking flies in the face of Localism ideal

By Somerset Standard | Posted: September 19, 2015

At the end of 2012 Frome Town Council offered its support to Frack Free Somerset and declared Frome "Frack Free". At the time it might have been thought that the possibility of fracking in Frome itself was non-existent, but new legislation allows drilling to be carried out under land and property, leaving both chemicals and equipment, after gasses have been extracted. With new licences up for auction as close as Chapmanslade and planning decisions being removed from local people, incursion under Frome becomes a real possibility.

Second, the imposition of fracking flies in the face of the Localism that Frome is trying to promote. How can we expect people to engage with local decision making, putting time and effort into our communities, when we are either not asked, or our views are trumped from above?

Peter Macfadyen, Leader of Frome Town Council

At last, Britain can have its shale gas revolution

The Spectator 22 August 2015 

The folly of failing to give fracking full-hearted support became clear last month when councillors in Lancashire rejected two planning applications for fracking sites, both on the parochial grounds that they would increase lorry traffic and lead to urbanisation of a rural or semi-rural area. The Lancashire decisions were cheered by residents, and anti-fracking groups proclaimed a ‘victory for localism’. So it was. It was also a perfect example of how the creed of localism can be deeply misguided. It’s all very well to allow residents a say on the design of new housing or the size of extensions, but there’s no sense in allowing them to veto matters of national importance. To make a responsible decision about whether to sink a fracking well means balancing the economic benefit with the disruption to the local environment.

At last, Britain can have its shale gas revolution » The Spectator

Shale gas – an inconvenient truth for the anti-fracking lobby

Energy strategy in Britain has three big goals; keeping the lights on, keeping the bills down, and moving to a clean energy future.

We need to meet the UK’s demand for energy, using clean and low carbon energy sources if we are to continue to combat climate change and grow the economy – a point emphasised in the recent report from the independent Task Force on Shale Gas...

With some interesting comment on the Minister's blog piece:

Joe Boyd — 23/09/2015

QUOTE 'If we are going to make this work' The government needs a social license, which it hasn't got, neither will it ever have one. With public support now at an all time low of 21% at my last look. Its time to give up on the arrogance, and give people back its democracy on this issue. Localism is key to sustainability, by localism i don't mean pushing people into Cities whilst you industrialize our Countryside.

Hers's a great link to some people who agree that energy prices won't come down

1. Lord Browne, chairman of Cuadrilla: "We are part of a well-connected European gas market and, unless it is a gigantic amount of gas, it is not going to have material impact on price."

2. Mark Linder, Bell Pottinger executive, former Cuadrilla PR spokesman: “We've done an analysis and it's a very small…at the most it's a very small percentage… basically insignificant.”

3. A Cuadrilla spokesman: “Cuadrilla's never said it [shale] will bring down prices…We don't think it will bring down prices, although it does have the potential to.”

4. Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy, Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC): “North Sea gas didn’t significantly move UK prices – so we can’t expect UK shale production alone to have any effect."
He added it was "far from clear that UK shale gas production could ever replicate the price effects seen in the US."

5. David Kennedy, former head of the Committee on Climate Change: "People are very worried about the energy bills and it's tempting to look across to America and say, 'look what shale gas has done there, it's caused gas prices to plummet, we would love that to happen here', and then to say 'well it will happen here'," he said. "It is highly unlikely to happen here. There isn't enough shale gas in the UK and in Europe to change the European market price."
He added: "The economic argument is that you would expect prices not to go down because of shale gas.

"Let's not confuse this by saying it is going solve the affordability problem - it probably isn't.

The Shale gas task fund is also brimming with Industry people. It's in no way independent, so to even spout this rubbish is disrespectful to the intelligence of those of this country

Shale gas – an inconvenient truth for the anti-fracking lobby | Department of Energy and Climate Change blog

The campaigning group Greenpeace also sees it rather differently:

New petition: Government must respect Lancashire council's decision to say no to fracking

Posted by Richard Casson — 27 November 2015 at 6:27pm - 3 Comments

You might have heard today that the government has announced it will 'call in' the decision over fracking in Lancashire. What this means is that, depsite Lancashire county council voting against the shale gas industry back in June, the government now intends to have the final say.

Even though public support for fracking continues to drop, it looks like minister are now moving to approve Cuadrilla's application to drill. Greg Clark, the minister who oversees our councils, will now make the final call. In the past he's called on council leaders to "take power" back from central government. Is this a principle he'll now stick to and apply to fracking? We've launched an urgent petition telling Greg Clark to stick to his words and respect Lancashire council's decision to say no to shale gas.

Here's the email I just sent to Greenpeace's email list to announce the news.

We're being silenced. Earlier this year, our movement to stop fracking won a huge victory when Lancashire council said a resounding NO to fracking. But now, in an unprecedented move that makes a mockery out of local democracy, Westminster politicians announced that they’ll have the final say [1].

The news was confirmed last night -- Greg Clark, the minister responsible for overseeing local government, will make the call on fracking in Lancashire.

As the man in charge of local democracy, in the past Greg Clark has called on council leaders to "take power" back from central government [2]. It would be really embarrassing for him to ignore his own advice. So let's show him that thousands of us are watching, and that we won't let him get away with it if he now overrules the council:

In case you’ve not heard of it before, fracking - short for hydraulic fracturing - is the process of blasting water, sand and a cocktail of chemicals deep underground in order to pump out gas or oil. If we're going to avoid dangerous levels of climate change, now's the time for us to weaning ourselves off fossil fuels, not exploring for new gas and oil to burn.

But shale gas and oil isn't just a bad idea for our climate, it's hugely unpopular too. Contaminated water from fracking could spread into the environment, polluting ecosystems. So it's no surprise that, even based on the government's own data, public support for the industry is at an all time low [3].

Government minister Greg Clark could hold up Lancashire’s decision to block fracking, or he could undo local democracy with the stroke of a pen. In a speech earlier on this year, he told council leaders that they should be “masters of their own destiny.” Let’s hold him to his words. Please sign:

Rebecca, who lives in Lancashire and is part of the group Nanas Against Fracking, summed it up this morning when she told us: "I'm feeling furious about the government's latest blow, but I'm also feeling defiant. If they think we are going away now they are hugely mistaken."

For Rebecca, and everyone who's worked so hard to keep fossil fuel industry at bay, let’s show David Cameron’s government that we’re never giving up.

Greenpeace UK

1. http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2436797/reports-ministers-to-intervene-in-lancashire-fracking-decision
2. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/greg-clark-tells-local-government-association-take-power-now
3. http://drillordrop.com/2015/11/10/record-level-of-opposition-to-fracking-government-survey/

New petition: Government must respect Lancashire council's decision to say no to fracking | Greenpeace UK
Ministers accused of hypocrisy as fracking schemes called in - BT

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