25 May 2016
An MEP has warned that fracking could be round the corner for parts of the South West, including at some of the region’s most sensitive sites of special interest. Molly Scott Cato, the Green MEP for the South West, has made the warning following yesterday’s decision by councillors in North Yorkshire to allow fracking near the village of Kirby Misperton.
Last year the government issued 22 licence blocks for oil and gas extraction across Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset alone, impacting on many sensitive and designated areas, including the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Poole Harbour, The Quantock Hills, Exmoor National Park, and Salisbury Plain. The Mendip Hills and the Forest of Dean are among other areas in the South West being opened up for fracking . Controversially, the government has also given the green light to fracking beneath National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Groundwater Protection Zones, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and World Heritage sites. Molly said:
“This is a truly disastrous decision by councillors in North Yorkshire and shows that the Tories will willingly disregard the health, wellbeing and views of local people and the protection of the environment to enable a hugely damaging industry get stuck in and line its pockets. This is the tip of the iceberg and we could now see the frackers begin their march across our beautiful region. In the South West, fracking would prove enormously costly not just for our precious environment and landscapes but also for a rural economy so heavily reliant on tourism. Some of our most fragile and treasured landscapes could become exposed to noise, air, light and water pollution.”
Molly says a vote to remain in the EU on the 23rd June is more likely to help keep the South West frack-free:
“With only a month to go until the referendum, it must be remembered that EU law has the precautionary principle at its heart. This means that safety must be proven rather than proving harm after problems have arisen. The UK government clearly has no such precautionary intensions; it is going all out for shale and led lobbying efforts against EU recommended environmental and public health safeguards.”
“Other European countries have taken a lead against hazardous fracking. France and the Netherlands have banned it and Scotland has imposed a moratorium. The UK government on the other hand continues with its fracking madness. It is clear we are more likely to become frack-free, or at very least better protected from the frackers, if we remain part of the EU."
Public support for fracking is at an all-time low while support for renewables remains widespread. Molly is asking residents in the South West to urge their local councillors, MPs and MEPs to sign a recently launched cross-party frack-free petition, which has 54 signatories so far.