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Greens warn of threats to South West jobs, health and environment from fracking

In the week that Green MP Caroline Lucas and other anti-fracking campaigners go on trial over protests at Balcombe last year [1], South West Green Party has repeated a warning that allowing fracking, or shale gas extraction, in the region would be disastrous. Several licences for shale gas exploration have already been sold in the South West with more set to follow.

Dr Molly Scott Cato, lead Green Party European candidate in the South West, said:

"George Osborne’s declaration that he wants to extract ‘every last drop’ of oil and gas out of the ground demonstrates his utter contempt for local communities, people’s health and the environment. This winter we have seen the consequences of a changing climate here in the South West with violent storms and floods. But the Tories, together with their Lib Dem partners, want us to extract and use yet more of the fossil fuels causing the problem. The industrialisation of our countryside that fracking would cause could be a disaster for a region reliant on tourism, agriculture and increasingly, innovative renewable energy projects. There is no evidence to suggest that shale gas will mean cheaper energy or lower fuel bills [2]. The way to stop people dying because they can’t afford to heat their homes is by massive investment in insulation and energy efficiency, not fracking."

Greens have outlined five key reasons why allowing fracking in the region could have devastating impacts on health, the rural environment, the local economy, local democracy and the climate [see details below].

The Green Party is the only UK political party that wants a complete ban on fracking. They want to see a massive investment in energy efficiency measures and home insulation as well as support for renewable energy technologies. They are urging people in the South West to join their campaign against fracking by signing a petition set up by the Green Party. [3]

Notes:

Five reasons why the Green Party is opposed to fracking in the South West

Health: the fracking process uses chemicals and water injected under pressure into rocks deep underground to release gas with the potential to contaminate our water supply

The rural environment: for shale gas extraction to be economically viable requires a large numbers of wells set at regular intervals. The hundreds of rigs, associated equipment and lorries would industrialise the South West’s beautiful environment and landscapes.

Local economy: the South West is a region that has great potential for Green Tourism, food production and renewable energy generation. Industrialising our beautiful countryside and agricultural land with thousands of rigs, and all the accompanying noise and light pollution from machinery and lorries, will damage the potential of these industries.

Local democracy: the Government is using planning law to make it easier for fracking companies to march in, ignoring local people's wishes. In an act of desperation to impose deeply unpopular fracking on communities the government has set about bribing local authorities by offering 100% of business rates from fracking activities back to local communities.  

Climate change: scientists agree that two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if we are to avoid dangerous climate change. Fracking is an extreme method of extracting yet more fossil fuel out of the ground; the exact opposite to what scientists believe we should be doing. Shale gas extraction also leaks large amounts of methane – a very strong greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere.

[1] http://www.carolinelucas.com/media.html/2014/03/21/my-trial  

[2] http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2013/07/will-shale-gas-mean-cheaper-energy-bills

[3] http://my.greenparty.org.uk/civicrm/petition/sign?sid=3&reset=1

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