Jenny Ross on the dirty industry that threatens our beautiful hills
Hydraulic Fracturing – the process of extracting gas from wells drilled deep below the earth by administering a highly pressurised mix of water, sand and up to 600 chemicals – may seem a long way away for the electorate, but Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Stalybridge and Hyde, Jenny Ross, says Tameside locals should vote to protect themselves from this controversial form of extreme energy gathering because our entire area is currently being offered up for license.
“95 out of a potential 295 bids have come in to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, but they won’t release details of where until after the general election,” says Jenny, “So if the people of Tameside don’t vote for a party that opposes fracking, the world’s worst lottery scenario – where our houses lose 70% of their value, our families’ health is put at risk, and our entire area is blighted, could apply to us.”
Last month a report from Medact, backed by leading UK doctors and public health academics, advised a nationwide prohibition on fracking – a process which remains hugely unpopular with the electorate. 76% of people oppose fracking, according to a Department of Energy and Climate Change survey, and the Infrastructure Bill’s removal of peoples’ right to oppose fracking under their homes, has cemented public dissent.
“The Green Party are the only party who oppose fracking. That’s the only sensible decision to take when health evidence from the USA and Australia makes it abundantly clear fracking isn’t safe,” states Jenny.
The pro-fracking Conservative party have been strongly criticised for their close relationship with industry bosses, whilst Labour support a regulated industry – despite the fact their regulations to demand mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments and no fracking on controlled water zones were watered down in the House of Lords, leaving campaigners concerned over UK aquifer supply and integrity.
“There is lower Boland shale in Tameside,” says Jenny. “However, I think it’s much more likely we will see fracking to develop Coal Bed Methane as our area is littered with old mine seams and CBM is in TMBC’s local plan.”
Coal Bed Methane extraction – known as Coal Seam Gas (CSG) in Australia – has caused earthquakes and air and water pollution in the rural outback, provoking huge nationwide protests.
“The problems we’ve seen in Australia and the US would be magnified here on our highly populated island. These developments aren’t just one well: a production zone could have up to 30 wells on, each taking up 5km square. They have 24/7 drilling licenses, flaring radioactive gasses through the night, compressor stations, thousands of movements of 300,000 litre tankers clogging up and damaging our roads. Furthermore, each frack takes between 20,000-50,000 cubic meters of water per well. Where on earth do we find that amount of water when every summer we get a hosepipe ban for wanting to hydrate the marigolds? And how do we replace it when the water is rendered toxic and radioactive during the process?” asks Jenny.
Parliament’s own Environmental Audit Committee have advised the House of Commons that even if shale and CBM are developed in the UK, our carbon budget would not allow for their burning, and industry insider’s have already admitted the gas will not be cheaper.
“Continuing to invest in fracking is stifling investment in affordable renewable energy that the people of this country so desperately need,” says Jenny. “1-in-4 households in the UK are now living in fuel poverty. It’s time to roll out renewables creating 1,000,000 new jobs in the process and supplying the people of the UK with clean energy that won’t cost the earth.”
If you don’t want to see fracking developed in Tameside, sign our petition here