Crawley News 24 Column, Wednesday 10th January 2018

Demonstrating against fracking in West Sussex with Friends of the Earth, back in 2015

Fracking is back on the radar in West Sussex, with major-fracking firm Cuadrilla being granted permission to resume oil exploration at Balcombe, just down the road from Crawley.

During my time as a West Sussex county councillor, fracking was one of the issues which refused to go away and certainly it required the most active whipping efforts by the council’s Conservative leadership.

To be fair, members of the county’s planning committee are in a tricky position when they rule on applications for fracking as the Government has banned environmental issues from being taken into consideration. However, when the council had the opportunity to make a stand in opposition to fracking, Labour were the only Group to say the county should actively oppose fracking.

Concerns around the safety of fracking have arisen from a wide range of sources, but even if the industry were to be believed that fracking could be made safe there would still be two big problems with allowing fracking in the UK right now.

The first is that in the Government’s rush to attract shale energy companies to the UK and cash in on the industry’s growth, they have failed to put in place sufficient regulation and monitoring to ensure that companies operate in a safe manner. Whether or not the industry can theoretically be made safe, the failure to put these safeguards in place should for now prohibit any consideration of the use of fracking.

The second is that the last thing we need at this point is to be reducing the cost of fossil fuels. The world is already heating up and we need to be investing in renewable sources of energy. By focusing on reducing the cost of fossil fuels we undermine that sector and in doing so the opportunity for our own survival.

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