So, Coun. Paul White “calls for planning overhaul to protect views”. How petty and short-sighted. We need more sources of renewable energy, such as wind power, not less. The present planning laws are already restrictive as the Government has reduced the investment in this form of energy and made it more difficult to get planning permission.
Coun. White and his colleagues should focus their attention to resist and reject the exploration and extraction of shale gas in Pendle and East Lancashire. In the council’s Strategic Plan, the Vision Statement says it will “conserve and enhance our quality environment”. Further, in the adopted Sustainable Community Strategy, two of eight agreed priority outcomes are:
To improve health and well being and help people live long, healthy and independent lives;
To care for our environment and deepen our understanding and respect for our surroundings.
The strategy goes on to state that these would be delivered under three strategic objectives, of which one is by “ensuring a cohesive, healthier and safer Pendle” with a clear commitment to “maintain the quality of our environment through effective and efficient services, education, enforcement, community involvement and partnership working”.
If the council permits fracking to take place in Pendle, it will be infringing its own strategic priorities, policies and plans. From the evidence of fracking elsewhere, the risks from the drilling process will damage the environment, endanger public health and increase harmful climate change.
These risks range from: groundwater and surface water contamination; excessive use of water; air pollution with the emission of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals together with radioactive waste from leaking wells and flaring; industrialisation of landscape; irreversible damage to biodiversity; high noise and volumes of traffic (EU AEA Report, September 2012, and, Breast Cancer UK Report, August 2014).
We have fault fractures in the geology and former coal mines with the added risks of tremors/earthquakes, subsidence and the release of coal bed methane, which is at least 20 times more powerful than CO2 as a global warming gas.
Already, on the Fylde Coast where fracking is due to take place, the value of properties has plummeted and insurance premiums have rocketed. There is also evidence that fracking will have have an adverse impact on agriculture and tourism and not create the number of jobs claimed.
All in all, fracking would be disastrous and is certainly not a vote winner.