A Hexham man is leading a campaign to prevent Tynedale‘s rich mineral deposits from being exploited by high-tech mining interests.
Rather than digging for coal and lead though, the modern day miners want to use the controversial techniques of fracking and underground coal gasification to win natural gas from shale and coal deposits.
Fracking is the process of hydraulic fracturing of rock by injecting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals so that energy sources such as gas, petroleum and brine can be extracted.
And while there are currently no sites designated for such activities on the books of Northumberland County Council, campaigners want to be prepared should any applications come along.
Dr Jonathan Boniface, from Fellside, has become one of the leading lights in the newly-formed Keep Northumberland Frack Free group, which is to hold its first public meeting to discuss the threat of fracking and UCG in Hexham Community Centre on 27 June at 2pm.
Tynedale has been known over the centuries for its rich deposits of valuable minerals, from the lead, silver and zinc of the Allen Valleys, to the vast coalfields which underlie much of the district, from Haltwhistle and Halton Lea Gate to Prudhoe and Mickley.
Only a decade ago, Australian company Roc Oil found “gas saturated tight sands” in a £1m drilling exercise at Errington Red House, close to the Roman Wall near Bingfield.
A relaunched Northumberland Green Party branch has vowed to build on growing national support when they take on the Tories in next year’s General Election.
Tynedale Green Party, which has reformed in Hexham, will put forward a parliamentary candidate in 2015 for the first time since 1992, challenging Conservative MP Guy Opperman.
And its newly elected officers hope their efforts will be boosted by a 100% rise in England and Wales Green membership since the start of the year, and the possibility of joining further coalition governments in the future.
Graham Howard, who lives in Hexham and has been a supporter of Greenpeace since the 1980s, is press officer for the branch which covers all of Tynedale.
“We have a broken political system supported by vested corporate interests that resist any change.
“I work in the NHS and have seen this coalition turn the service on its head after it had been rebuilt under the previous Government.
“The Tories promised no ‘top-down re-organisation’ and then quite cynically reneged on that manifesto promise by instituting a totally unnecessary and brutal shake-up.
“Privatisation has been the mantra which has ruined so many industries at the expense of our basic infrastructure, for the financial benefit of a minority. The Greens must participate in the 2015 TV debates – they are the fastest growing party membership in the country.”
“Young voters are already much greener than older generations. That there are still climate change deniers able to get away with denying reality in the face of the science, would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous.”
John Hartshorne, a former Prudhoe schoolteacher, was the last Green Party candidate to stand 23 years ago.
“I joined because I believed that fundamental issues were not being discussed by politicians.
“Every one of us should have an interest in protecting and nurturing our world for our children, and teaching them the importance of compassion, tolerance and the inter-connectedness of all life.”
The next meeting of Tynedale Green Party is at 2pm on Saturday at Hexham Community Centre.
Mr Opperman said: “I look forward to a robust and honest debate on my record as Tynedale and Ponteland’s local MP.
“I am proud of my achievements such as protecting our local NHS, securing an extra £12m for our schools, fighting for our greenbelt and under this government seeing local unemployment fall by 51%.
“It has been a real honour to serve as the MP for my part of Northumberland over the last four years and I look forward to the campaign ahead. I hope I have tried to do things a little bit differently from the standard MP.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 10 Dec 2014
Stagnating North East house prices are undermining George Osborne’s Budget, MPs have warned.
Labour has hit out at claims the region is set to benefit from the Chancellor’s latest Budget, despite many of the measures being welcomed by the North East Chamber of Commerce.
As the Budget debate continues in Parliament, Hexham Conservative Guy Opperman spoke up for what he said were Government policies helping grow the North East economy.
He told MPs: “In the North East, the Help to Buy scheme is absolutely transforming the housing market. In Humbles Wood in Prudhoe, a housing development in my area, 90% of new purchases have been through Help to Buy. That must be good news.”
But his claim riled North Durham MP Kevan Jones, who quipped that the Conservatives are likely to adopt “Happy Days are Here Again as their 2015 General Election theme tune” but said people wouldn’t be fooled into believing everything was rosy.
He told the House of Commons: “I am not sure what nirvana the honourable member for Hexham lives in if he thinks that the housing market in the North East is booming. Average house prices here are still £5,000 lower than in 2008; that compares to an increase of about £77,000 in London.
“The honourable gentleman also fails to recognise that 16% of people in the North East are still in negative equity. The idea that somehow the housing market in the region is booming is wrong. We have a two-speed Britain – a booming South East and London, and a stagnating North.”
“The honourable member for Hexham described Hexham, which is a nice constituency, and the North East, but he is living in some type of parallel universe if he thinks that the North East economy is booming. Well-paid jobs in the public and private sectors have been replaced by low-paid zero-hours contracts.”
Source – Newcastle Journal 03 April 2014