The UK’s floundering fracking industry has been dealt another blow today, as Lancashire Council rejected a bid to resume drilling operations in the region.
Following intense local protests and strong warnings against fracking from as far afield at New York State, the council opposed the application on the grounds that it would “lead to the industrialisation of the countryside and adversely affect the landscape character”, in another sign that the tide is turning against dirty shale gas.
Furqan Naeem, Friends of the Earth’s north west campaigner said:
In the teeth of massive pressure from Cuadrilla and Westminster, Lancashire’s brave county councillors have voted to protect their citizens and the local environment – the winners today are democracy and the people of Lancashire. Both Cuadrilla and the government must respect Lancashire’s decision and not try to force unpopular fracking on these communities. Many polls show that the public wants renewable energy, not fracking – and the clean energy and long term jobs it provides.
With the unjustifiable health and environmental risks from the process, Scotland has already declared a moratorium and the Welsh assembly has indicated it would like to do the same.
The industry could face yet another set back, as the UK’s information commissioner has ruled a 2014 heavily-redacted government report on the impacts of fracking on house prices, businesses and services in rural areas must be published in full.
And while the UK government’s pursuit of fracking is once again proven misguided, its attacks on renewables could see the country missing out on huge benefits for citizens and the economy.
Following on from the Conservative Party manifesto commitment to end “new public subsidy” for onshore wind, last week the government announced it would end this support from April 2016, a year earlier than expected, a move that could see as many as 2,500 new wind turbines left unbuilt.
With onshore wind the cheapest low-carbon energy source, the latest moves have baffled business leaders who warn it could cost the UK thousands of industrial and construction jobs, see it lose out on billions in investment, push up energy bills and risk its ability to meet EU renewable energy targets at the cheapest possible cost.
Meanwhile, poll after poll has shown the UK’s support for a clean energy future, the phase out of dirty energy and ambitious climate action and last week thousands of concerned citizens descended on Westminster, London to lobby their MPs, asking them to take a stand in the global fight against climate change.
Many communities are already taking steps towards a renewable energy future, with residents in Balcombe, the “fracking village” at the centre of 2013 shale gas controversies is not only set to go 100% solar, but have community-owned power to spare.