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
Families will be forced to pay out a staggering £250bn to modernise Britain’s creaking water, gas, electricity and rail industries, a Teesside MP has warned.
Most of the massive cost of replacing the country’s ageing infrastructure is being added to household bills.
It means energy bills, which have already shot up, are set to increase by a fifth by 2030, on top of the effects of inflation.
Redcar MP Ian Swales was part of a Commons inquiry which looked at the way improvements to the nation’s utilities and transport networks were funded.
He warned that Government red tape was making it difficult for new businesses such as energy companies to get started – making it easier for the existing energy giants to charge sky high prices.
Speaking as MPs quizzed Government officials, he said: “Based on all the investors to whom I have talked – none of whom are the big six, which is an important point – we want to try to break the pseudo-monopolies.
“If we have people who want to invest, surely we should be making it as easy as possible for them.”
The so-called big six energy firms include E.On, EDF, SSE, Scottish Power, British Gas and Npower.
But Government rules made it almost impossible for new firms to enter the market, he said.
He urged civil servants in the Department of Energy and Climate Change to take action, telling one official: “In my constituency there are four potential power station investments right now, three of which are for fossil fuels.
“If you talk to all those investors, they will tell you that they feel like giving up because the system is almost impossible to deal with.”
The MP is one of the authors of a report which warns the UK is set to spend more than £375bn to replace infrastructure.
This includes replace assets such as rail track or waterworks which are simply too old; replace assets which don’t comply with EU regulation; introducing new facilities which cause less pollution, and catering for a growing population.
Around two-thirds of this will be paid for by private companies – but that really means consumers will pay through higher utility bills and rail fares, MPs said.
They warned: “Energy and water bills have risen considerably faster than incomes in recent years, and high levels of new investment in infrastructure mean that bills and charges are likely to continue to rise significantly.”
The Government should act by ensuring there is real competition, which would encourage companies to keep prices down, and in some cases by simply setting the prices consumers can be charged, MPs said.
Source – Sunday Sun, 06 July 2014