There were jubilant scenes on the steps of Bury Town Hall last night as Bury Council passed a motion to prohibit fracking on all council owned land and committed to going fossil free by 2025.
Council Leader Rishi Shori laid his trailblazing motion before the full council, speaking eloquently of the threat to the environment, health and wellbeing of local communities, and risk to house prices that fracking for shale gas and coal bed methane poses.
“Fracking is a zero sum game, you either accept the risk or you don’t,” Cllr Rishi told a full council meeting and packed public gallery, “and this council doesn’t accept the risk.”
Labour’s Sedgley Councillor Alan Quinn spoke of the double standards of the government’s energy policy saying they took public consultation on wind farms seriously, yet threatened to take decisions on fracking out of local people’s hands. “It’s one rule for them and another for us,” he underlined, pledging his support for renewables, “the future is not fracking the future is green.”
Councillor Sandra Walmsley raised the issue of specious community benefits, making it clear where her priorities lie: “I’d rather have a frack free future, a clean environment for my family and community than accept any fracking bung offered on the side.”
Whilst Councillor Nick Parnell outlined the dangers of unconventional oil and gas extraction: “If a wind turbine goes wrong it can be repaired. If fracking goes wrong it contaminates land and water for future generations.”
The original motion was passed in full with the support of both Labour and Lib Dem Councillors, prompting cheers from the public gallery. After attempting, in vain, to water down the motion with a late amendment, Tory Councillors sat on their hands and abstained from the final vote despite holding key seats in the areas of Bury most vulnerable to fracking.
Labour Party member Karen Leach, who played a leading part in developing and initiating the motion, said: “I’m so proud Bury Council approved this motion tonight. It is a victory for democracy, a victory for local communities in Bury and, more importantly, a victory for the safeguarding of the future of our natural environment.”
Pete Fillery from Ramsbottom Against Fracking said: “Hopefully this won’t just effect Bury, we’ll be held up as an example for many more Local Authorities to bring about measures to help protect local communities.”