Fylde campaigners’ joy at Labour fracking stand

A fracking rig

A fracking rig

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Campaigners on the Fylde have welcomed a pledge by Labour to ban fracking if it ever gets into power.

The promise was made by shadow energy and climate change minister Barry Gardiner who won loud applause at Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool when he attacked the Government’s policy on promoting shale gas.

Mr Gardiner, shadow international trade secretary, said former chancellor George Osborne passed “the most generous tax regime for shale gas anywhere in the world”.

He continued: “Well that will change under Labour.

“There are technical problems with fracking, and they give rise to real environmental dangers. But technical problems can be overcome. So on their own they’re not a good enough reason to ban fracking.

“The real reason to ban fracking is that it locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy.

“So today I am announcing that a future Labour government will ban fracking.

“We will consult with our colleagues in industry and the trade unions about the best way to transition our energy industry to create the vital jobs and apprenticeships we are going to need for the UK’s low-carbon future.”

Claire Stephenson from Preston New Road Action Group said: “We very much welcome Labour’s commitment to introduce a complete ban on fracking.

“More and more political voices are standing up to air their valid concerns about this dangerous extraction process. Backing clean and renewable energy is our only hope for a positive future climate.

“By the Conservative government introducing environmentally-catastrophic fracking as an energy ‘solution’ is both short-sighted and against the wishes of the communities involved. Promoting fossil fuels for UK energy production is a backwards vision for climate change mitigation and future renewable jobs.”

Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said:“This is the right thing to do because fracking is fundamentally incompatible with the UK’s climate change commitments. The Government is increasingly isolated in its zealous determination to impose fracking on communities that don’t want it.

However the move was criticised by the GMB Union at the party conference. Gary Smith, the union’s Scotland Secretary, said afterwards: “We will have to confront the fact that we will be buying gas from hangmen, henchmen and head-choppers. We don’t think that’s ethical.”

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, the gas exploration company which is hoping to get the go-ahead from the current government to frack at two site on the Fylde, said: “We are disappointed that Labour has reversed the positive view of shale gas it has held to date, without a proper Party debate.

“This runs contrary to the views of many of Unions and Labour MPs who understand that it will play a vital role in ensuring Britain’s energy security for 80 per cent of UK homes that rely on gas for heating and cooking and create much-needed jobs and investment in Lancashire and across the UK.”