This week has seen the Government accused of bribing local authorities to grant planning permission that would allow exploration for possible fracking sites. On top of this depressing news, GreenPeace announced today that the South Downs National Park is under threat from fracking: Celtique Energy – who recently applied to drill at Wisborough Green in West Sussex – have also set their sights on Fernhurst, which lies within the borders of the park. Green Peace express their concern:
‘Drilling for hard to reach fossil Fuels in the South Downs National Park is madness for the climate, local environment and Sussex communities. It also undermines the growth of the UK’s clean energy industries, which are vital in our fight against climate change.
The iconic white cliffs of the South Downs set it apart from any other national parks in Britain. The South Downs National Park Authority are responsible for its care, and on their website promise to act in the “interests of the people who live and work within it”. Let’s ensure that they do that, by saying no to fracking.’
Please lend your voice to the growing number of people who oppose these applications.
This recent push by the government to support shale gas comes at a point when there are concerns about new figures that the UK’s shale gas regulator has only six full-time staff dedicated to fracking. This week The Independent expressed concern that,
‘…the shale gas industry could be allowed to balloon without proper scrutiny… in only a fortnight, the regulator will be required to issue new fracking permits within two weeks, compared to the current 13-week wait.
…The change in business rates comes as Environment Agency – which regulates fracking as part of a much broader remit – prepares to cut about 15 per cent of its staff. An agency spokesman declined to comment on whether any of its fracking staff would be made redundant in the cuts.
“Rather than being rewarded for protecting the natural environment, councils are getting their bonuses for letting fracking take place”. said Harry Huyton, the RSPB’s head of energy policy.
“The Environment Agency is already dealing with severe budget cuts and increasing demands on its flood defence resources, raising concerns that they may not be able to properly manage the environmental impact of fracking,” he added.
“This is a new industry and is going to cover much of the country and the Environment Agency are operating with tiny resources that are only going to shrink. I don’t see how that is compatible with the promise of one of the most stringent regimes in the world,” Mr Huyton said.’
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