While many people in the UK focused on the royal wedding, the government announced plans to turbo-charge fracking in England.
On 17 May, energy secretary Greg Clark revealed a series of new measures to make sure fracking happens in a timely and easy manner. These include funding councils with £1.6m of taxpayers’ money to ‘help’ them get fracking moving.
As Caroline Lucas pointed out, “this announcement is a green light for climate breakdown”. But look, a wedding!
In his written statement on the new pledges, Clark says fracking is of “national importance”. So he wants mineral planning authorities, such as county councils, to “give great weight to the benefits” of it. And he dictates that these authorities should not “set restrictions or thresholds” to fracking or other mineral extraction in their area.
Clark also lays out what the government is willing to do to ensure companies are able to frack to their hearts’ content across England:
- The government will hold a consultation on whether it should treat fracking as “permitted development”. This would potentially mean companies don’t have to apply for planning permission to frack.
- It will also consult on whether to designate fracking projects among the “Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects”. Again, this would allow companies freedom from planning requirements.
- The government will launch a £1.6m taxpayer-funded “shale support fund” to help authorities process companies’ fracking applications faster.
- It will create a new “planning brokerage service”. This would effectively be a government-appointed mediator between relevant companies and authorities to “facilitate timely decision making” on applications.
In short, these proposals are a rocket booster for fracking plans in England. As Lucas told The Canary:
Britain’s fracking experiment was on life support, and now the government is trying its best to shock it back into life. The truth is that fracking is a redundant technology that would lock us into climate breakdown, carve up our countryside and put the economy on the wrong track. If we’re serious about building an economy fit for the future we need to reprogramme our energy system to one which harnesses the power of the sun, sea and wind – rather than throwing resources at this failed fracking experiment.
These latest measures utterly undermine the government’s green rhetoric – and show that the Tories simply can’t shake their support for fossil fuel firms.
Fracking, or shale gas extraction, is the process of injecting water into rock to extract shale gas. It is banned to varying extents in some EU countries. The practice carries many potential risks. Contamination of local water supplies is one. Earthquakes are another.
As Naomi Klein pointed out in her book, This Changes Everything, methane emissions linked to shale gas are 30% higher than with natural gas. And she noted that “methane is an extraordinarily dangerous greenhouse gas, thirty-four times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide”.
So at a time when the UN says we’re on course for a catastrophic 3°C rise in temperature by 2100 – wiping many cities from the face of the earth due to higher sea levels – it’s beyond reckless to go full throttle with fracking.
But then, as the Environmental Audit Committee recently revealed, the Conservative government has presided over a “dramatic and worrying collapse” of the clean energy sector. Going in the wrong direction on environmental policy is seemingly par for the course with this government.
These missteps will, however, cost us all dearly in the years ahead. And they will no doubt cost Meghan and Harry too. What a ‘gift’ the government has offered the happy couple as their wedding day approaches. ‘Your eventual children’s future is going to be a lot less bright now. Congratulations!’
– Help fight against fracking with Friends of the Earth.
– Find out more about fracking in your region with Frack Off.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?