Campaigners hoping to turn Northumberland in a Green Party powerbase defied dreary weather to officially launch their election battle.
Natalie Bennett’s party will fight all four Northumberland constituencies at the General Election next month, placing energy, anti-austerity, public services and transport at the heart of their strategy.
Taking shelter under bright green umbrellas, the candidates chose Druridge Bay Visitor Centre, near Amble, for the event, close to the site of a planned opencast mine, which the Greens are petitioning against amid fears it will damage the environment.
The party’s candidate for Hexham and chairman of the Northumberland Greens Lee Williscroft-Ferris, said:
“Today has been a huge success.
“Despite the poor weather, many Green Party members from across the four Northumberland constituencies have come to Druridge Bay to show their support as their candidates officially launch their general election campaigns.
“Although we are each fighting hard in our own areas, we share similar concerns. These include an urgent need to improve public transport and protect our public services, as well as a mutual objective of fighting against the unsafe exploitation of our natural resources through fracking, open cast mining and underground coal gasification.
“We offer a people and planet-focussed alternative to ‘business as usual’ politics and to the narrative of austerity – the number of people here today proves that there is a genuine appetite for a positive, Green vision of hope here in Northumberland.”
It comes as the Greens celebrate being the third-largest party, in terms of membership, in England as the party enjoys unprecedented exposure in the TV leaders’ debates.
While the Greens are not anticipating victory in Northumberland a surge of support for them could make a decisive difference in the key marginal of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Following the retirement of long-serving Lib Dem MP Sir Alan Beith, Conservative Anne-Marie Trevelyan is neck-and-neck with Lib Dem Julie Porksen, but the Greens’ candidate Rachael Roberts is holding her own.
Dawn Furness is taking on Labour’s Ronnie Campbell – who polled a 6,668 majority in 2010 – in the Blyth Valley constituency while Chris Hedley also faces a tough opponent in Wansbeck where Ian Lavery will stand for Ed Miliband’s party.
The Save Druridge campaign has a petition, which can be found online: http://www.savedruridge.co.uk
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 13 Apr 2015
Fracking must be roundly rejected in any part of Northumberland, a Green Party politician vying to be an MP has said.
Rachael Roberts, who will contest the Berwick upon Tweed constituency, has launched a petition demanding that Northumberland County Council commits to refusing all applications for fracking.
“All proposals for fossil fuel extraction in Northumberland, whether by fracking for gas, drilling for oil, or open cast mining for coal, are fundamentally keeping us tied to 19th Century technology – the county council has already recognised that Northumberland has potential to become a world leader in renewable energy, and it is in this clean technology of the future that our investment must be made, not in the polluting technology of the past.”
In 2014, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) invited bids from companies wishing to explore for onshore oil and gas across much of Northumberland.
The areas permitting exploratory drilling under Amble and Rothbury, and between those two towns. The results have not been announced.
Ms Roberts is calling on the council to make a refusal of any fracking activity its policy.
“Fracking contaminates ground water supplies, where it risks introducing toxic chemicals, carcinogenic hydrocarbons and radioactive matter into the natural food chain.
“The biodiversity that is already stressed from pollution, pesticides and climate change will be under threat: this is a risk that no responsible council should ever consider taking.”
A Northumberland County Council spokesman said:
“The exploratory, appraisal or production phase of hydrocarbon extraction can only take place in areas where the Department of Energy and Climate Change have issued a license.
“The Government is considering a further round of these licences and parts of Northumberland do fall within the areas being considered.
“In addition, planning permission would also be required.
“The emerging Core Strategy includes a number of draft policies that any future planning applications for fracking would be considered against.
“The draft policies set out a range of environment criteria for assessing proposals, including a requirement to demonstrate that any benefits outweigh the adverse impacts on local communities and the environment.”
Ms Roberts’ petition can be found at:
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 02 Mar 2015