Green MEP responds to West Sussex Waste and Minerals Plan

Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for Sussex, has responded to the proposed modifications to the West Sussex Waste and Minerals Local Plan.

The senior Green politician said:

“I am demanding that West Sussex County Council go much further to protect our precious National Park, communities and access to safe and clean water. To do this effectively, they must rule out any fracking or acidisation in the region.”

“While the Tories’ hated national planning rules state National Parks ‘have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty,’ there is little indication in the Waste and Minerals Local Plan that the Council is doing even the bare minimum to make good on the rhetoric.”

“If the Council is truly committed to combatting the climate breakdown and comply with our legal-binding climate commitments, this plan should be a roadmap to decarbonising West Sussex, not opening it up for dirty fossil fuel extraction. It is impossible to fight climate change, on the one hand, while using the other to wave through destructive fracking and acidisation.”

“The EU’s precautionary principle and Water Framework Directive should mean that any risk of harm to our environment and water must be ruled out before any operation is allowed to go ahead. It is clear, however, from West Sussex County Council’s plan that the Council is choosing to ignore these vital protections in favour of opening up our countryside to polluting oil and gas operations. Our groundwater is particularly at risk from acidisation and fracking.”

“At the same time, fossil fuel extraction is the largest driver of rising in methane levels in our atmosphere. Methane has more than 80 times the climate change impact of carbon dioxide emissions.”

“The scientific consensus has never been clearer, recent reports from sources as varied as NASA and academics at York, Oslo and Colorado have all made clear that Britain’s insistence on supporting dirty fuels has put us on a course to miss our legally-binding domestic carbon targets and international Paris agreement obligations.”

“The Committee on Climate Change states that the exploitation of shale gas is not compatible with UK carbon budgets, or the 2050 commitment to reduce emissions by at least 80%. Instead of pursuing hydraulic fracturing and acidising, the country’s leading specialists on climate change recommend councils instead invest in zero carbon technologies. West Sussex County Council must embrace the opportunity to do just that.”

On air pollution, Mr Taylor added:

“I am also worried that the plan doesn’t go anywhere near far enough to protect the quality of the air that we’re forced to breathe. National planning rules say that West Sussex has to “prevent new development from contributing to unacceptable levels of soil, air, water or noise pollution or land instability.” Only a much tougher Waste and Minerals plan could come close to fulfilling those criteria. And a much stronger plan is what West Sussex County Council should be producing.”

Mr Taylor concluded:

“While we continue to push the government to finally put an end to its love affair with the fracking industry, we must keep calling on local decision makers to be brave too, to stand up for their communities by standing against the destruction of our countryside.”