'England's not for shale': Green MEP slams plans to bypass local democracy to fast-track fracking as consultation enters final week
Green MEP Keith Taylor has reiterated his opposition to the Conservative government's plans to bypass local democracy to push 'climate-destructive' fracking on communities across England that have rejected it.
The government is running two parallel consultations which aim to make fracking operations Permitted Development and Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. The effect would be to remove local authorities, which have consistently rejected fracking, from the decision-making process and make planning permission for shale gas exploration as easy to obtain as it is for erecting a garden shed.
Mr Taylor has been running a month-long campaign to encourage people to respond to the consultations. The senior Green politician's 'Say No To Fast-Tracking Fracking' briefing has been downloaded almost 5,000 times since September 18.
Mr Taylor's final submissions to the consultations come in the wake of a climate rally at the quake-hit Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire on Saturday. In his submissions, Mr Taylor rejects the assertion that shale gas is a "safe, secure and affordable supply of energy" and dismisses the economic viability of the fracking industry in the UK.
Keith Taylor MEP full response to the Permitted Development consultation
Keith Taylor MEP full response to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning consultation
The Green Party MEP also highlights how the government's plans to open up a "new fossil fuel frontier" are "grossly inconsistent" with the advice of climate scientists who have come together to say we have just 12 years to avert the very worst effects of the climate breakdown.
The consultations claim the UK has gold standard fracking and oil and gas drilling regulations, but Mr Taylor rejects this claim too and has provided the government with a dossier of breaches at drilling sites across England that have attracted little or no sanction.
Responding to the consultations, Mr Taylor, a member of the European Parliament's Environment and Public Health Committee, said:
"When climate scientists across the world are telling political leaders that the only way to avoid climate catastrophe is to remake the human world within a generation, it is unconscionable that the Tories are still pushing ahead with plans to fast-track the dangerous exploitation of new climate-destructive shale gas reserves. The plans to bypass local democracy in the process just add anti-democratic insult to injury."
"Fracking has never been compatible with our binding climate commitments under the Paris agreement. This month's IPCC report makes clear the brutal reality of the impact of global warming exceeding 1.5c. Failure to keep below that limit is assured if the Tories press ahead with fracking."
"Ministers must wake up and take urgent action to drop their support for the climate-destructive fossil fuel industry. Fracking is a form of increasingly dangerous climate denial."
Mr Taylor, who is still urging people to respond to the consultations before they close on Thursday [25 October], added:
"People overwhelmingly support renewables and reject fracking. So much so that a government ideologically committed to the latter has stopped asking them which they prefer. If the government won't listen to climate scientists, it is my hope they might finally be forced to listen to the thousands of responses to their insidious and antidemocratic plans to fast-track fracking. England, our planet, and our futures aren't for shale and we won't stand for it."