Fylde anti-fracking groups hail EU frack vote

An anti-fracking camp off Preston New Road close to where a frack test drill site is planned
An anti-fracking camp off Preston New Road close to where a frack test drill site is planned
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Anti-fracking campaigners today claimed the ‘wind of change’ is blowing against shale gas after a vote at the European Parliament.

They say that although the vote did not have any practical effect, the MEPs’ decision 338 to 319 in favour of a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for shale until it is proven safe, is significant for the future of the industry.

The vote this week was taken as part of a debate on EU energy security strategy but ended up being voted down by right wingers opposed to CO2 emission cuts and by greens who opposed an inserted clause about nuclear power.

But campaigners say it could mean a shale gas moratorium could come back on the EU agenda and that the vote casts doubts over the industry in Europe.

Shale gas supporters, however, say the industry is safe and there was no justification for a ban despite the failed report. Lancashire County Council is expected to rule later this month on two bids by energy firm Cuadrilla to test frack on the Fylde, at Preston New Road and at Roseacre.

A spokesman for the Preston New Road Action Group said the EU vote was “historic” and showed members had fears over the risks and negative consequences of fracking for climate change, environment and health.

He said: “At Preston New Road we have been set up to become the guinea pigs in the UK’s fracking experiment. Now it looks like we are destined to be maybe be the only European site to fracked in the years to come unless our government sees sense.

“This encouragement could not have come at a more timely moment for us, with Lancashire County Council deciding our fate over the next two weeks. This is a powerful addition to our arguments, which we believe are already unanswerable.

“If the County rejects Cuadrilla’s plans, as we now hope, it would beggar belief if central government attempted not only to overturn the local decision, but to defy European opinion, where common sense has won the argument against fracking.”

But a spokesman for UK shale gas industry body UKOOG said: “The European Parliament has rejected the European Energy Security Strategy paper, including an amendment calling for a fracking moratorium until the process was proved safe.

“In light of last week’s Environmental Protection Agency report into fracking, which took five years to complete and covered more than 38,000 oil and gas wells in the US and showed that there was no evidence that fracking has ‘led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water in the US’, and the array of papers on the subject from Public Health England, the Chartered Institution of Water Management, The Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering and an independent academic panel for the Scottish Government among others, we are confident our industry has been proven to be safe and, therefore, fail to see any justification for a moratorium.”