Put the brakes on fracking

Sunday 18th August 2013

A large cross-section of environmental and conservation groups has called on the Government to “put the brakes on fracking”.

In a letter in today’s Sunday Times (1), the NGOs - including The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, WWF and Greenpeace– say protests in Balcombe, Sussex are not an isolated case of local dissent, but emblematic of concern shared by many of their members about the threat fracking poses to communities and the environment.

Every possible step should be taken to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to invest more in renewable alternatives

This is the first time such a large number of influential NGOs have joined together to urge the Government to stop its headlong rush into fracking, and the first time The Wildlife Trusts have spoken out nationally.  It comes after RSPB yesterday issued its first formal objections to fracking proposals in Balcombe and Lancashire. (2)

If we embrace fracking to the degree proposed by the Coalition, the UK will be left with a gas-dependent energy system for decades to come, meaning our ability to meet our legally-binding carbon targets will be significantly compromised,” said the group.

Meanwhile there is no evidence that UK shale will reduce household energy bills and the clean technologies that can actually limit climate impacts, improve energy efficiency and deliver cheaper energy over time are being side-lined.”

RSPB spokesman Harry Huyton said, “Balcombe has hit the headlines as the battleground in the debate over fracking.  The public there are rightly concerned about the impact this new technology will have on their countryside. But these are not just nimbys – there is a very real public disquiet about fracking.”

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape at The Wildlife Trusts, said, “Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing wildlife and society, so every possible step should be taken to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to invest more in renewable alternatives.  Fracking could take us several steps backwards, in terms of meeting climate commitments, and also poses multiple environmental risks, such as contamination of groundwater, which could severely harm communities, wildlife and ecosystems.  These serious concerns must be addressed.

(1) Full text of joint letter -

Sirs-

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our shared concern over the Government’s headlong rush into fracking.  A dash for shale gas and oil extraction is incompatible with our responsibility to address climate change and to protect wildlife and the natural environment.

The protest in Balcombe, Sussex is not an isolated case of local dissent.  Rather, it should be seen as emblematic of the broad public concern shared by many of our members about the threat to communities and the environment posed by fracking, and anger that a government which came to power with aspirations of being the ‘greenest ever’ is now recklessly pursuing new sources of fossil fuels. Rather than addressing these concerns, the Government has aggravated them by “streamlining” planning and processes for granting environmental permits to encourage shale gas extraction, and promising “the most generous tax regime in the world” for the industry.

If we embrace fracking to the degree proposed by the Coalition, the UK will be left with a gas-dependent energy system for decades to come, meaning our ability to meet our legally-binding carbon targets will be significantly compromised. Meanwhile there is no evidence that UK shale will reduce household energy bills and the clean technologies that can actually limit climate impacts, improve energy efficiency and deliver cheaper energy over time are being side-lined.

We call on the Government to put the brakes on fracking in the UK now, and to put the focus back on using energy more efficiently and tapping into our greatest natural assets – wind, wave, and solar power – all of which would allow us to prosper in the long-run by providing safe, clean and renewable energy to fuel our economy.

Mike Clarke - CEO, RSPB
Stephanie Hilborne – CEO, The Wildlife Trusts
John Sauven – Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
David Nussbaum – CEO, WWF
Andy Atkins – Executive Director, Friends of the Earth
Phoebe Cullingworth, Climate Campaigns Manager, People & Planet
Simon Howlett, Co-Director, UK Youth Climate Coalition
David Babbs – Executive Director, 38 Degrees

(2) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23730308#?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Tagged with: Living Landscapes, Fracking