Tuesday 9th February, London - Greenpeace has installed a life-like ten-metre fracking rig and drill at Parliament Square this morning to ‘bring the local impacts of fracking to the heart of democracy’.
A new Populus poll released today by Greenpeace shows that nearly two-thirds (62%) of people in the UK think their local council, not central government departments, should decide whether to accept or reject fracking applications in their local area.
The rig emits a realistic flame which is firing up every hour using bio ethanol, while flood lighting and the sound effects of drilling and lorries are reverberating around the House of Commons.
The protest and polling results coincide with the first day of the independent Planning Inspectorate inquiry into whether fracking will go ahead in Lancashire. Energy company Cuadrilla, which is owned by companies based in Australia and the Cayman Islands, is appealing against Lancashire county council’s decision to reject its fracking application.
However, Greg Clark, the Communities Minister, has already announced he will have the final say on whether Cuadrilla will be allowed to frack in Lancashire. In a bid to fast track fracking, the government announced last year that he could ignore both the decision by the local council and the Planning Inspectorate.
In a letter sent to Lancashire County Council in November last year, Greg Clark explained, “The reason for this direction is because the drilling appeals involve proposals for exploring and developing shale gas which amount to proposals for development of major importance having more than local significance and proposals which raise important or novel issues of development control, and/or legal difficulties.”
Previously Greg Clark had been vocal in his support for the idea of local decision-making. Back In 2011 he said that local councils should “wield real power.” And last year, Clark told the Local Government Association that they must “Take power now. Don’t let yourself, any longer, be ruled by someone else.”
Hannah Martin, Greenpeace campaigner said:
“We are here to fight for the future of the English countryside. Ministers are pushing aside local democracy to bulldoze through their unpopular fracking plans. We have installed a life-like fracking rig and drill at Parliament Square to show them what people in Lancashire and beyond will have to endure if so-called Communities Minister Greg Clark forces fracking on a reluctant nation.”
Last weekend, campaigners and local people were angered further by a leaked letter from three Cabinet ministers - Liz Truss, Amber Rudd and Greg Clark to George Osborne. The letter suggested that fracking applications could be taken out of local authorities’ control altogether and immediately passed to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning process.
“This is an affront to local democracy and shows a lack of respect for people’s wishes.” added Hannah Martin. “People who love and live in the countryside and who care about climate change will not stand for a government riding roughshod over democracy to industrialise our landscape and damage the climate.”
Last year, Greenpeace revealed that Cuadrilla is owned by companies based in Australia and the tax haven of the Cayman Islands, and that four out of ten fracking license holders are either wholly or partially owned through tax havens.
Hannah Martin continued:
“We and the government know that most known reserves of fossil fuels must stay in the ground if we are to have any chance of combating climate change. A dash for gas is simply not an environmentally and economically effective strategy to power the UK after the Paris climate agreement.”
A rally is taking place outside Blackpool Football club where the inquiry is being held. Jasber Singh, from Lancashire and part of Frack Free Lancashire said:
"I have been involved with anti-fracking community groups in Lancashire for over two years, and the number of groups keeps increasing. That's because we are not going to gain anything from fracking apart from air, noise, land and water pollution that’s bad for our health and the health of the climate. It would pay the Communities Minister to visit some communities in Lancashire rather than ignoring us and our council."
For more information, please call Kate Blagojevic on 07801 212 959
The planning inspector will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, who will make the final decision. http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/business/local-business/breaking-fracking-decision-in-lancashire-to-be-made-by-secretary-of-state-1-7593163#ixzz3z7Pqqq84
Cuadrilla, the biggest UK shale company, is 45 per cent-owned by Riverstone, a private equity company fund registered in the Cayman Islands. Another 45 per cent is owned by AJ Lucas, an Australian company, whose largest shareholder, Kerogen Investments, is registered in the Cayman Islands.