Salford Council unanimously passed a motion at Full Council today (20 September) expressing concern about fracking, its impact on climate change and strongly opposing Conservative plans to weaken local authority powers over fracking decisions (1).
During the debate several Conservative Councillors condemned the Conservative Party’s attempts to centralise fracking decisions – through their manifesto pledge that major shale gas decisions would no longer reside with local authorities (2) and overturning the decision of Lancashire County Council to refuse fracking at Preston New Road – and referred to the uncertainty over the safety of fracking.
Councillor Clarkson (Conservatives) said it is a matter of “safeguarding the future of our children” and that not enough is understood about fracking to say it is safe.
Councillor Lewis (Labour) said that “fracking won’t solve energy problems” and that “we need a solar power revolution”.
Introducing the motion Councillor Antrobus (Labour) had set out that fracking would undermine commitments on climate change, including the Paris Agreement which the UK Government has signed up to, and it would be “irrational” to lock us into a new high carbon energy source beyond the timeframe that we need to decarbonise the economy.
The council chamber heard about the unpopularity of fracking nationally, with the latest Government figures showing support for fracking has fallen to an all-time low of just 16% (3).
Frack Free Greater Manchester welcomed the debate and the motion which recognises that fracking undermines efforts to tackle climate change, and commits to supporting local renewable energy, although it falls short of the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s “presumption of opposition to fracking” (4).
Over 3000 local people signed a petition against fracking in Salford, which was presented to the council in 2014, following widespread local protests against exploratory drilling for shale gas by IGas at Barton Moss (5).
Salford resident Helena Coates, on behalf of Frack Free Greater Manchester, said:
“As a member of both Frack Free Greater Manchester and the Labour party, I am pleased that Salford council has passed this motion. It is also right that Salford Council stands up for itself against central government, who have shown that they have no respect for the decisions made by local authorities. We hope the planning department and Councillors can find the strength they need to stand up for us when it matters, and follow the plans laid out in the Labour party manifesto to build an alterative infrastructure that takes us away from the carbon economy.”
2. p.23 https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws