‘Fracking’ is short for the hydrological fracturing of underground shales to release gas for burning as a high carbon fuel. Possible target areas might include the shales under the Edale valley, previously investigated for oil extraction.
There is already a resistance movement www.frackoff.org.uk . They have focused mainly on the current fracking in the Ribble valley, Lancashire. The Peak District National Park Authority’s minerals team has had no approach to date – Derbyshire Green Party has asked to be informed if any such approach is made. Henry Folkard, British Mountaineering Club’s local planning campaigner, asked at a Community Area Forum for an opinion in November. Jim Dixon, the PDNPA CEO, answered that an approval would have to establish national need to overcome local and national policies to protect the national park. Green Party member John Youatt, former minerals planner, thinks a ‘national need’ argument will be difficult to sustain, given the conflict with climate change policies, the impacts, and known alternatives for the energy mix.
Caroline Lucas MP has meanwhile tabled an Early Day Motion no.181 www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/181 This asks for a moratorium on licences until the companies come clean on the impacts, including the secret chemicals being added to our ground water. Encourage your MP to sign it.
Charlotte Farrell (High Peak) and John Youatt (Dales) intend to call a meeting this September. If the meeting agrees, all relevant Councils and Agencies will be asked to sign a declaration to oppose fracking in favour of investment in renewables.
The moral imperative: We need all the energy we can get — it will be a mixture. Anyone who expects the lights to come on at the flick of a switch has a moral duty to accept renewable energy in all but the most exceptional circumstances. There’s a government planning policy statement that says as much (PPS1 CC supplement)
Green Party policy #1: Renewable energy is the most beneficial to the planet and the human race. Wind power is one of the lowest carbon sources; its ultra safe and it’s our own energy resource. The more wind energy, the less need for carbon rich sources and unsafe import-dependent nuclear energy, which isn’t low carbon. Storage is an issue that we’ve been slow to address but there are several technical solutions. The Green Party is urging massive investment in renewable energy. Renewable energy is part of the Green Party’s drive for a million green jobs (go to http://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies.html) selected quote:-
“A massive increase in the proportion of electricity that comes from renewable sources – raising wind energy production to the same level as Denmark by 2020 would alone create 200,000 jobs.”
Green Party policy #2: “Fair is worth fighting for” It is essential that no-one in the local community suffers unfairly from these machines. Neighbours should be compensated appropriately within a fair and transparent system. The local community, whose local assets are being used, should benefit from a share in the venture, ideally through an opportunity to own or part own machines or by some other contribution.
Peak District National Park Authority: The Matlock turbines are not in specially protected countryside. I live in and used to work for the Peak National Park Authority. My LPA, the PDNPA, has now twice spent significant resources on objections to wind farms and even on a legal challenge. The basic case against wind farms inside the Park is that on entering and being in the Park, it should visibly be a special place. The converse surely applies. Once inside the Park and looking out, one should expect a difference. I believe it is inappropriate for the PDNPA to oppose wind farms outside the Park on the basis of distant views from a small area in the Park. It should learn from the Carsington decisions.
Local opinion: For the last 5 years I have worked for Sustainable Youlgrave (SY)*. The PDNPA urged SY to assess local support for SY’s proposals for a limited number of individual wind turbines. We agreed; and carried out opinion polls. A significant majority of those polled are in favour of wind turbines in our valley, even where seen from the interviewees’ homes. I’m aware of no such poll before resources were spent opposing the Carsington and Matlock installations.
by John Youatt, electoral agent for Cllr Josh Stockell, the Green Party parliamentary candidate for the Derbyshire Dales. (* SY is strictly apolitical. I resigned my chairmanship of SY on taking up a role for the Green Party)