Maybe our local MP Owen Patterson can take some guidance from Nick Herbert and oppose drilling in his constituency in Shropshire.
Source: The telegraph – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/fracking/10979081/Fracking-Tory-ex-minister-Nick-Herbert-opposes-drilling-in-West-Sussex-village.html
A former Tory minister is leading opposition to attempts to explore for shale oil in a picturesque West Sussex village, in a blow to Government attempts to kick-start fracking across Britain.
Nick Herbert MP urged councillors to throw out Celtique Energie’s bid to drill near Wisborough Green at a crunch vote on Tuesday, warning: “Rural West Sussex cannot become a carelessly industrialised landscape.”
Mr Herbert, the former policing minister, said that local residents were united against the company’s plans “because of the huge disruption” they would face from lorries going to and from the site on “totally unsuitable” roads.
Promised community cash benefits for any eventual fracking at the site “don’t really cut any ice locally”, he said, while a Government plan to allow fracking under homes without owners’ consent was “provocative and has been misunderstood”.
Mr Herbert also warned that claims that shale exploration would cut energy bills had been “oversold”, saying: “It’s not clear that it will lower prices.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said last summer that “fracking has real potential to drive energy bills down”.
The intervention by Mr Herbert comes as the Government prepares to invite energy companies to bid for rights to explore for shale gas and oil across vast swathes of the UK.
Ministers have said they expect to see “strong interest” in exploring for shale oil in the South and that fracking should take place there for the national good – despite experts identifying north-west England as holding far greater quantities of shale gas and oil.
But Celtique has faced fierce local opposition to attempts to explore in the South. It is currently seeking planning permission to drill through shale rocks, “to confirm what potential (if any) these rocks have for commercial production”.
If successful it could then apply for fresh planning permission to frack – the controversial process of pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to fracture rocks and extract the oil or gas.
Celtique says the current plans will require up to 24 lorry journeys through the village each day but council planning officials have already recommended that the application be denied, accusing the company of providing an “unrealistic and inaccurate” assessment, including overstating the level of traffic already passing through the village. Celtique has now attempted to get the vote delayed so it can offer more information.
Mr Herbert said the company had “lost the trust of the local community”.
A group of local landowners around the drilling site has also attempted to frustrate Celtique’s plans by forming a “legal blockade” using trespass law to deny the company rights to drill out horizontally beneath their land, which would be required in the event of fracking.
However, ministers are consulting on changing the law so homeowners in future would be powerless to prevent such drilling.
Mr Herbert said he was “sceptical” of the proposed law change. “It’s provocative and has been misunderstood by local people as allowing trespass on their land,” he said.
The MP for Arundel and South Downs said he was not opposed to fracking in principle but that the site was the wrong location.
“I can see it is in the national interest to investigate an alternative source of energy but protecting landscapes such as the South Downs is also in the national interest,” he said.
“Wisborough Green is a very picturesque, tranquil village and this proposal would involve the lorries going right through the middle of the village green on tiny roads. It’s a very inappropriate location for this kind of activity.”
He said there was a case for fracking to improve energy security but disputed suggestions that it would help lower energy bills.
“It’s not clear that it will lower prices, it may help to stabilise them. But I think it was overstated to suggest – as some did – that it would result in a massive reduction in gas prices as it has done in the United States.”