Yorkshire campaigners celebrate as Labour joins anti-fracking camp

YORKSHIRE ANTI-FRACKING campaigners were celebrating last night after a second major political party pledged to ban the controversial mining method.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 27th September 2016, 8:05 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 2:05 pm
Fracking plans have attracted protests in North Yorkshire
Fracking plans have attracted protests in North Yorkshire

Labour promised it would put a hold on moves to establish a UK fracking industry joining the Liberal Democrats who have already declared their opposition.

Yorkshire has become the frontline in the battle over fracking with Kirby Misperton, in Ryedale, set to be the first onshore site since 2011.

Other energy companies have secured licences to explore for gas in the area with Ineos known to be preparing an application to frack.

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Peter Allen, from the Frack Free Ryedale campaign group, said: “We are pleased to see that mainstream political opinion is now aligning itself with the views of the Great British public, who are overwhelmingly opposed to fracking.

“The Labour Party now joins the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party in calling for a ban on this unwanted, unnecessary and unsafe industry, and pro-fracking councillors will now be wondering if they can hang on to their seats in next year’s council elections, particularly in areas threatened by fracking.”

Fracking involves the pumping of sand, water and chemicals into shale rock formations deep underground, freeing trapped gas deposits.

Labour’s opposition to fracking is in stark contrast to the Government’s enthusiastic support for developing a UK industry.

David Cameron said the UK should go “all out for shale” to provide a source of secure energy in the UK and create jobs.

Environmentalists have expressed concern about the potential impact on water courses but Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner said there were broader reasons to outlaw the process.

He told the Labour Party conference in Liverpool: “The real reason to ban fracking is that it locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy.

“So today I am announcing that a future Labour government will ban fracking.

“And we will consult with our colleagues in industry and the Trade Unions about the best way to transition our energy industry to create the vital jobs and apprenticeships we are going to need for the UK’s low-carbon future.”

Fracking has prompted significant public concern and Labour’s clear opposition is likely to resonate with many voters.

But the decision has put the party on a collision course with its trade union supporters, many of whom see a thriving shale gas industry as an important source of jobs for their members.

The announcement was made as a shipment of fracked gas from the United States was due to arrive in the UK.

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary, said: “Carting gas across oceans is not good from the environment and not good for security of supply in the UK.

“Given we will need gas to heat our homes and power industry, the question is therefore where are we going to get our gas from. We are increasingly going to be dependent on regimes fronted by henchmen, hangmen and headchoppers for the gas we need.

“That isn’t ethical and is surely an abdication of our environmental and moral responsibilities.”

Ken Cronin, chief executive of the onshore oil and gas industry body UKOOG, said: “We import over 50 per cent of our gas usage today and that is set to rise to 80 per cent while at the same time 84 per cent of our homes use gas for heating, 61 per cent for cooking, up to 50 per cent of our electricity comes from gas and a large number of everyday products use gas as an integral feedstock.

“If we want to maintain the right of the general public to access heat and power securely, manage climate change, create UK based jobs then we need to develop renewables, nuclear and natural gas from shale.”