Fast-track fracking plan by Tory Government prompts criticism

From The Guardian: Fracking opponents have reacted with anger after ministers unveiled measures to help projects through the planning system in England, which campaigners said would make drilling a shale well as easy as building a conservatory.

Shale gas explorers will be able to drill test sites in England without applying for planning permission and fracking sites could be classed as nationally significant infrastructure, meaning approval would come at a national rather than local level.

Greenpeace said the government had turned a deaf ear to communities and councils, and would make “exploratory drilling as easy as building a garden wall or conservatory”.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

“Fracking statement cements Tories’ disregard for evidence-based policy-making” says Green MEP

Press release from Keith Taylor MEP: Responding to the Tory Government’s announcement that it will accelerate its plans to fast-track fracking across England, by relaxing planning laws and overriding local democracy, just seven days after a consultation on the proposals closed, Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South East, said: “This process has been a sham; the Government can’t claim with any credibility that it has assessed even a handful of the responses to the hefty consultation on these anti-democratic plans that it closed only last week.”

“Ultimately, the Conservative government, for all its empty green promises has proven determined to defy the evidence and local communities and hasten the climate breakdown by fast-tracking a fracking enterprise for which it has been unable to demonstrate either an economic or energy security case. It is with absolute certainty that experts and climate campaigners say: there is no possibility that the UK will meet its legally-binding climate targets if fracking is rolled out across England.”

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Found: The strongest evidence so far that fracking can harm people

From Yahoo! News: Babies born within 1.9 miles of fracking sites are at greater risk of being born with low birth weight, researchers say – increasing the likelihood of infant mortality, ADHD and asthma.

Researchers led by Michael Greenstone of the University of Chicago analysed records of more than 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2013.

The researchers found no health effects in babies born further away than 1.9 miles from fracking sites – but the closer babies were, the more likely they were to be underweight.

[Read full article on Yahoo! News…]

Pollutants from fracking could pose health risk to children, warn researchers

From The Guardian: Pollutants released during fracking processes could pose a health risk to infants and children, according to researchers studying chemicals involved in shale gas operations.

In the UK, fracking is backed by the Tory Government and the first drilling in six years is expected to begin this week in the North Yorkshire village of Kirby Misperton, despite staunch opposition from protesters.

However, other countries have banned the practice, including France, Ireland, and Germany, citing environmental concerns, with the Scottish parliament today backing the Scottish government’s ban.

Now scientists analysing studies looking into the presence of chemicals at fracking sites in the US say the presence of pollutants ranging from airborne particulates to heavy metals could affect the neurodevelopment of babies and children in the area.

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Fracking poses ‘significant’ risk to humans and should be temporarily banned across EU, says new report

From The Independent: A major new scientific study has concluded that the controversial gas extraction technique known as fracking poses a “significant” risk to human health and British wildlife, and highlights serious shortcomings in the UK’s regulatory regime, which the report says will only get worse as the Government makes further budget cuts.

[Read full article on Independent website…]

Tories will ‘override the public’ on fracking

From The Argus: Oil and gas drilling would be “railroaded” through against the wishes of residents if Conservative manifesto pledges come into law, environmentalists have warned.

Friends of the Earth have warned eight Sussex constituencies could be affected by Tory proposals to remove the need for a planning application to allow non-fracking drilling.

The environmental campaigners are also critical of plans which could take decisions on fracking applications away from accountable locally elected councils and hand it to the Planning Inspectorate.

The warning comes as controversial drilling has begun this week in the Sussex countryside.

[Read full article in The Argus…]

Conservatives back fracking and seek to take some shale decisions away from local councils

From Drill Or Drop: A Conservative government would take some decisions on shale gas drilling plans out of local control.

In the manifesto published this morning, the party said:

  • Drilling that did not involve fracking would be classed as permitted development and would not need planning permission
  • Major shale planning decisions could be made by a government minister rather than a local council planning committee.

This marks a major change in policy for the Conservatives, who have previously promised “local people know best” and there would be “no compromise” in taking account of the views of local communities.

The Conservatives are now the only the only major party in the UK to support fracking. Labour and Lib Dem manifestos, published earlier this week, promised to ban or oppose it.

This is a big difference from the 2015 election, when only the Greens promised an outright ban, as it has done again this year.

[Read full article on Drill Or Drop website…]

#GE17: Conservatives isolated as only major party to back fracking

From DesmogUK: The Tories are now the only major party in the UK that does not oppose fracking.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats promised to ban or oppose the practice in this general election campaign.

Labour’s manifesto promised an outright ban, and said the party was against fracking because “it would lock us into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels, long after the point in 2030 when the Committee on Climate Change says gas in the UK must sharply decline”.

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto said the party opposes fracking “because of its adverse impact on climate change, the energy mix, and the local environment.”

But the Conservatives maintained that there is a role for the fledgling industry.

[Read full article on DesmogUK website…]

Tory Government makes ‘outrageous’ U-turn over fracking in precious wildlife sites

From The Guardian: The government has made a U-turn on its promise to exclude fracking from Britain’s most important nature sites, arguing that the shale gas industry would be held back if it was excluded from them.

Campaigners accused ministers of putting wildlife at risk and reneging on their pledge earlier this year to ban fracking in sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), which cover about 8% of England and similar proportions of Wales and Scotland.

Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, told MPs in January: “We have agreed an outright ban on fracking in national parks [and] sites of special scientific interest”.

But the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc), which laid draft regulations in parliament on Thursday covering which areas fracking would be excluded from, has confirmed that exploration for shale gas will no longer be prevented in SSSIs.

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Tory Government unveils ‘most generous tax breaks in world’ for fracking

From The Guardian: George Osborne has infuriated environmentalists by announcing big tax breaks for the fracking industry in a bid to kickstart a shale gas revolution that could increase the UK’s carbon emissions.

The generous allowances were condemned by environmental groups worried about the chemicals used in fracking and fearful that burning more gas will make it impossible to hit carbon reduction targets designed to mitigate climate change.

It also comes after a survey showed that nearly 80% of those who were polled believed that the UK should reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

Lawrence Carter, a Greenpeace energy campaigner, said: “The chancellor is telling anyone who will listen that UK shale gas is set to be an economic miracle, yet he’s had to offer the industry sweetheart tax deals just to reassure them that fracking would be profitable.

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