Liberal Democrats propose shale gas "fracking" policy for Newcastle

September 7, 2014 9:03 PM

Councillor Wendy Taylor proposed and Councillor Griff Kane seconded an amendement to a "looney Left" motion at Newcastle City Council at its September meeting. (Labour Councillors with expertise spoke against their own motion but voted for it - the Whip in action!)

This Council notes :
That the Queen's speech set out Government plans to modify the trespass laws by granting underground access rights for horizontal drilling to companies extracting petroleum or geothermal energy from at least 300 metres below the surface.
That companies will still need planning permission to drill for shale gas.
That many local communities have genuine concerns about the environmental and visual impact of shale gas exploration in their areas
That the government believes that people living above underground drilling should receive compensation from the operator in return for the right of access.
That the North East is marked as an area under consideration for 'fracking', although it also notes that geology and existing coal mine workings mean that the Newcastle area is unlikely to be a site for exploitation of shale gasand of some 250 exploration licences issued to date, none are in the North East.
That the North East is a centre of expertise for renewable energy and electric cars
That 31% of the UK's electricity is generated from coal, the fuel with the greatest environmental impact
That with the closure of older power stations, including nuclear, and the instability in the Middle East from where increasing amounts of liquefiedgas are imported, there is a real danger of power cuts without very large amounts of investment
Council recalls with pride the industrial, cultural & social heritage of coal-mining in the North-East, but believes that the health costs & effects on global warming mean that coal is no longer a suitable fuel source for the 21st century. . It notes with sadness the human cost in deaths and injuries from coalmining historically in this region and elsewhere in the world today.

Council believes that
The debate about shale gas should not distract us from our urgent need to invest in low carbon electricity generation to meet our renewable energy targets for 2020
It is important that planning decisions for shale gas exploration and production are made by local authorities, just as they are for other forms of energy generation such as onshore wind.
Sustainability should be a priority for Government at the National and Local levels.
Council resolves to
Reaffirm its support for the Council's strategy Creating a Greener Newcastle & reaffirm its commitment to pursue policies of energy efficiency & support for renewable with the aims of reducing energy demand & eradicating fuel poverty
Demonstrate this commitment by reinstating environment and sustainability as one of the Council's key objectives and re-establishing a Cabinet post to drive this forward.
Develop a planning policy on shale gas fracking that ensures that regulations controlling pollution & protecting local environmental quality are strictly enforced & that the local community are fully consulted over extraction.