COUNCILLORS were today accused of treating local people as “guinea pigs” after claiming a permanent halt to shale gas fracking was not necessary.
Fylde councillors have spent the past year discussing all aspects of controversial shale gas fracking – and come to the conclusion a moratorium on the practice is “unnecessary”.
But they do want to see urgent steps taken to monitor the drilling process and a report, due to be discussed by the community focus scrutiny committee tonight, recommends an independent “Shale Gas Tsar” be appointed to make sure shale gas drilling activities are properly regulated.
The document, prepared by the shale gas task and finish group, states: “The task and finish group discussed the possibility of seeking a moratorium on shale gas production but felt this unnecessary.
“If the shale activities are to go into full production, it is imperative that a strong, robust and comprehensive regulatory framework and best practice arrangements are put in place to deal with on-shore activities.
“The confusion surrounded by the inspection and monitoring arrangements needs to be urgently addressed and the group is of the view this can only be done by the appointment of an independent Shale Gas Tsar and the funding of such an appointment would be via a levy on the operating companies.”
As it stands, Cuadrilla Resources hold the licence to drill on the Fylde – with sites at Weeton, Westby and Singleton – although fracking is suspended following two earthquakes last year, pending a final report from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Tonight’s meeting will discuss the full recommendations proposed by the group, and make formal suggestions for the action which should be taken by the council’s ruling cabinet.
But the Blackpool and Fylde Green Party has slammed the report as a “charter for experimentation” on the Fylde.
Group chairman, Coun Philip Mitchell (pictured) said: “I will be writing to each individual councillor and propose that the task and finish group report be open to a period of public consultation.
“Fylde councillors must stand up and be counted and show whether or not they are willing to allow their communities to be treated as guinea-pigs.”