Protests over fracking talks

Campaigners show their views on gas drilling.

Campaigners show their views on gas drilling.

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CAMPAIGNERS have protested against proposals for fracking.

Green Party members were demonstrating at County Hall in Preston, where Lancashire councillors and Government officials are holding talks in private about how this drilling might be regulated.

Joining county councilors behind closed doors are representatives from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency.

The Green Party wants a moratorium on shale gas and for liability rules to be revised to ensure companies involved in shale gas extraction are required to provide financial guarantees to cover the potential risks.

Philip Mitchell, from Blackpool Green Party, said: “The European Parliament recently highlighted risks and called for tougher regulation, the proper application of existing EU rules and an outright ban on fracking in sensitive areas.”

The Green Party claims fracking – the process of firing liquid underground at high pressure to release gas from shale rock – is seen as a cheap and timely replacement for the UK’s dwindling North Sea supplies.

County Coun Michael Green, cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “Any decisions will take account of all representations received on planning grounds, which would include guidance from those agencies responsible for determining the safety of the fracking process and any environmental impacts – namely the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency.

“Naturally we’re keeping a close eye on developments in this area and await with interest further news on national energy policy, the establishment of a shale gas office and what role and responsibilities it may have, whether shale gas reserves in Lancashire could be exploited commercially, and the possible impacts of this upon the county.”

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