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Environment groups oppose government proposals

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open letter, Daily Telegraph, 8 October 2018, environmental groups, government proposals, fracking‘If approved, these proposals would be as shocking as they would be harmful.’

Earlier this year, the government announced two proposals that a coalition of environmental groups have spoken out against.

The first would treat non-hydraulic shale gas exploration as ‘permitted development’ – meaning that fracking companies would no longer be required to apply for planning permission to begin exploratory drilling.

The second was to classify fracking as part of the ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects’ regime – which would take local councils out of the decision making process for fracking proposals and hand the decision-making over to the national government.

In an open letter Daily Telegraph on 8 October 2018, 20 charities, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the RSPB, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the WWF, labelled fracking proposals a ‘perversion of local democracy’.

It also pointed out that ‘the risks posed by injecting chemicals into the earth in order to remove carbon-emitting fossil fuels are well known, and could have a disastrous effect on our countryside, landscapes and environment’.

The letter ran:

We write to you as a matter of urgency, regarding the Government’s proposals to fast-track fracking.

These plans would disregard the wishes of local communities, remove decision making powers from local councils and strip the requirement for fracking companies to apply for planning permission for shale gas exploration.

If approved, these proposals would be as shocking as they would be harmful.

Local councils are elected by local people, for local people, to make decisions on issues that affect their local area. Simplifying the planning process for non-hydraulic exploration so that communities’ views are not considered – and have to hand over powers to have the final say on shale production to a Minister – is a complete perversion of local democracy, and will undermine the fundamental principles of our planning system.

The risks posed by injecting chemicals into the earth in order to remove carbon-emitting fossil fuels are well known, and could have a disastrous effect on our countryside, landscapes and environment.

There has been wide-spread public opposition to fracking – everywhere it has been proposed it has been vehemently opposed. Now we, the voice of the environmental sector, are calling on the Government to drop its proposals that risk opening the door to fracking on an industrial scale, and threaten the health and tranquillity of our green and pleasant land. Far from removing local people’s voices from the discussion, it is imperative that they are given the opportunity to have their say.

It was signed by:

Andy Gheorghiu, Policy Advisor and Campaigner, Food & Water Europe

Anna Vickerstaff, Senior UK Campaigner, 350.org

Craig Bennett, Chief Executive Officer, Friends of the Earth

Crispin Truman, Chief Executive Officer, Campaign to Protect Rural England

Ellie Roberts, Campaign Manager, 10:10

Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Climate Change, WWF

Dr Jeremy Biggs, Director, Freshwater Habitats Trust

Joan Edwards, Director – Public Affairs and Living Seas, Wildlife Trusts

Joe Corre, Founder, Talk Fracking

John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK

Katie Hodgetts, Gas Team Coordinator, UKYCC

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive, Angling Trust

Oliver Newham, Lead Campaigner – Ancient Woodland, Woodland Trust

Paul Knight, Chief Executive Officer, Salmon and Trout Conservation

Rachel Diamond-Hunter, Campaigns Manager, 38 Degrees

Simon Marsh, Head of Sustainable Development, RSPB

Sondhya Gupta, Senior Campaigner, SumOfUs

Steve Mason, Co-founder and Director, Frack Free United

Suzanne Jeffery, Chair, Campaign against Climate Change

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director and Founder, Food & Water Watch

And as Crispin Truman, Chief Executive Officer at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “We have a government policy full of contradictions.

“It makes ‘commitments’ to cut carbon emissions, to conserve and enhance the beauty of our natural environment and also to champion localism.

“Yet they attempt to impose on us a new industry that extracts carbon-emitting fossil fuels, that will industrialise the countryside against the wishes of local communities and deny those same communities the opportunity to reject any subsequent fracking proposals.

“To fast-track fracking through the planning system, as these proposals aim to do, is a ruthless subversion of local democracy.

“It is imperative that the government heeds the warnings from this coalition of environmental groups, as well as those MPs pushing back against the plans from all political parties.

“The proposals are quite simply unacceptable and must be dropped immediately.”

Fracking has been widely opposed since it was introduced in the UK and progress has been slow due to objections, protests and legal challenges from all quarters.

These plans are the government’s attempt to speed the process up and bypass potential blockages. But in doing so, the plans would fail to scrutinise properly an industry that poses huge risks to both the countryside and environment – and to people’s health and happiness.

In short: the 20 signatories to the letter urges the government to ‘drop its proposals that risk opening the door to fracking on an industrial scale’.

You could help the cause by forwarding this letter to your MP.

You could also send a version of this letter put together by campaigners ‘Let Communites Decide’ to the MPs named: Claire Perry MP and CCing James Brokenshire MP, Greg Clark MP, Kit Malthouse MP. And to your own MP, asking them to raise this issue with Claire Perry.

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