The recent decision by the government to override Lancashire County Council’s decision to deny planning permission for fracking on the Fylde had an effect on the community outside of the dreadful environmental issues. As a result of the decision made by the government Lancashire County Council will be asked to contribute to the costs of the enquiry held earlier this year. There is speculation that the amount will be in the region of £330,000. Given the authority’s already straitened circumstances after having to deal with the austerity measures of successive governments, this is money that the County Council can ill afford.
The government’s action has effectively added insult to injury in that the money that the Council is expected to pay out in costs could far better have been spent on the people of Lancashire. One instance immediately springs to mind, is that the money could have been spent on improving flood defences. Flooding in some areas of the county has been the worst in the country. Extreme weather conditions have been the cause of the flooding and the extreme weather conditions are occurring because of climate destabilisation caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Shale gas is a fossil fuel and the burning of it will only increase climate destabilisation and consequent flooding. The irony of the situation is that the government is effectively making the council pay out money so that shale gas companies can further endanger the lives and properties of people living in Lancashire. Are we happy that our money, the money essentially belonging to the people of Lancashire, is spent in such a way? Most of us would undoubtedly like the money to be spent in a more constructive way.
Money and the making of it is, of course, the driving force behind the industry. Are we, the people, happy that certain banks are investing our money in the shale gas industry and therefore further encouraging the development of fracking? Next week, on Friday, 28th October 2016, supporters of KELFF (Keep East Lancashire Frack Free) will be in Rawtenstall, appropriately enough in Bank Street, speaking to members of the public about the dangers of fracking. They will be handing out literature and asking people to consider with whom they bank. For instance, it is well known that Barclays Bank owns a 97% share of the gas company Third Energy which is the company currently trying to establish fracking in North Yorkshire. Taking the funding away from the fracking companies is one way of ensuring that fracking is not begun in Lancashire or anywhere else.
Francis Egan, the CEO of Cuadrilla, the company hoping to start drilling at the site on the Fylde, has been quoted as saying that the decision to approve fracking in Lancashire was ‘perfectly democratic’ although the reasoning behind his statement is not apparent. The word democracy comes from the Greek : “δημοκρατία” and in Greek means the ‘rule of the commoners’. A duty to promote democracy is fundamental to our education system and forms part of our ‘British Values’. Through the County Council the people, the commoners, had their say and they said that they did not want fracking in the County. Through local councils, petitions, blogs and websites the people are continuing to have their say. They are saying that they do not want fracking in Lancashire, in the UK or anywhere in the world and their voices are in the majority. Therefore, Francis Egan saying that the decision was democratic is untenable. More importantly, overriding the County Council does not say much for the government’s idea of democracy and begs the question as to what form of democracy is being taught in our schools and colleges.
However, we are not defeated. The one thing the people can do is decide where and how their money is spent. Come along to the KELFF stall on Friday 28th October, 2016 between 11.30am and 1.30pm and talk about the measures we can take to carry on the fight against fracking.
If you are unable to join us on Friday 28th October 2016, you may be interested in coming along to Hippings Vale Community Centre, Harvey Street in Oswaldtwistle at 3.00pm on Sunday 6th November 2016. There will be a film called Groundswell Rising and talk by the filmmaker Mark Lichty from Pennsylvania about Fracking – introduced by Gayzer Frackman and time for Q and A’s.
Hope you can join us and please share.
October 18th, 2016