Julian welcomes government’s fracking moratorium in light of new scientific evidence
November 5, 2019
Julian has welcomed the government’s announcement over the weekend that it will impose a moratorium on fracking with immediate effect, following the conclusion of an Oil and Gas Authority report that it is not currently possible to accurately predict the magnitude or probability of earthquakes linked to fracking operations, and the experience of the Preston New Road site and the impact on residents in Lancashire.
This means that there will now be a presumption against the government issuing any further authorisations for companies to carry out fracking, and this position will remain unless and until compelling new evidence can be produced that fracking would not have unacceptable impacts.
As a consequence of this, the government has also announced it will not proceed with proposals floated in consultations last year to treat early stage shale exploration as permitted development, and to include certain fracking projects in the nationally significant infrastructure projects regime. Julian has actively opposed these proposals on the grounds they could weaken local control over fracking applications, writing to Ministers to request they be dropped, and also raising the matter at Prime Minister’s Questions in July 2018.
Fracking firms have previously expressed an interest in exploring options in the York area, especially Northeast of the city towards Strensall and Sheriff Hutton, and Mr Sturdy has been representing concerned local residents on the matter over several years.
On hearing the news, said: “I have always believed energy projects of this kind should only proceed if they have clear support and provide concrete benefits to the communities in which they are situated, and are safe according to the latest scientific evidence available.
Given that the latest assessment by the independent regulator the Oil and Gas Authority is that the risks from tremors associated with fracking cannot be accurately predicted, I am very glad that the government has acted swiftly in line with this new expert guidance.
I hope this announcement gives some reassurance to local residents who have contacted me with their concerns about the development of fracking in recent years, which I have raised with the government, the Oil and Gas Authority and the fracking companies directly. Like many other residents, I felt considerable disquiet at the potential for disruption, pollution and congestion that could be the result of the development of fracking sites in tranquil rural and suburban areas around our city.
I am particularly pleased that Ministers have responded to my consistent calls, including at Prime Minister’s Questions, for them to drop proposed changes to the planning system for fracking, which I was very concerned would water down the powers of local authorities to decide on whether to permit fracking projects in their areas.
I have consistently argued that local communities must have the power to reject unwanted and inappropriate projects and developments, whether this be fracking sites, or the proposed housing development near the unique Askham Bog site, on which I continue to back local residents in their fight against this.”