UK Fracking Protests Intensify As Officials Push Exploratory Drilling
As protests over shale gas continue to grow in the UK, it has been revealed that half of Britain’s cabinet ministers could see fracking in their constituencies, a revelation expected to deepen the political row over the process.
Analysis of the 176 onshore oil and gas drilling licenses issued by the Department for Energy and Climate Change—put together by Greenpeace—has shown that up to 13 members of the cabinet could see exploratory drilling in their seats over coming years.
This includes those held by Energy Secretary Ed Davey, Chancellor George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Earmarked for “petroleum exploration development,” many of the licenses refer to shale sites, although others could generate conventional oil and gas.
The analysis follows comments from Osborne calling on fellow Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) to support shale gas—even in their own constituencies.
But ahead of the 2015 election, some politicians are worried about the potential for further protests to spring up, like those taking place in Balcombe, West Sussex.
Lawrence Carter of Greenpeace said the government should expect more protests like these in the future:
MPs should brace themselves for a significant voter backlash if they allow fracking to be forced on their constituents. People won’t take the disruption of their communities and countryside lying down.
Some politicians including Osborne have been openly enthusiastic about the process and the Treasury has recently offered generous tax breaks to encourage the industry—which could see an even larger round of licensing next year.
Energy Minister Michael Fallon has also spoken out in favor of shale gas exploration, and has publicly commented that “claims exploration involves ruining the countryside are nonsense.” Other coalition members have, however, been less excited.
In the first major, public attack on fracking, Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat’s president spoke out over the weekend warning that it risks “damaging the countryside” for decades.
And in private Fallon has also raised concerns that fracking might face fierce resistance, particularly as exploration moves to the south of England.
Such comments may seem unsurprising as the protests in Balcombe look set to intensify.
As Caudrilla began test drilling on the site, this week, the residents made a fresh vow to oppose the company’s activities in the region, fearing possible side-effects such as groundwater contamination, subsidence and earth tremors, as well as the more immediate threat of noisy trucks rumbling through the village.
Next week, thousands more protesters could descend on the leafy, West Sussex village, as local protestors are set to be joined by UK campaign group No Dash for Gas—as they hold a five-day action camp at the site.
The Reclaim Your Power camp was intended to take place in Nottinghamshire, but has been moved to Balcombe as a sign of solidarity with the local campaigners.
The group protests against the government’s "dash for gas" and gained widespread attention last August when they shut down a power station in West Burton for seven days. As the two groups link, they say over a thousand people could join the camp.
Ewa Jasiewicz from the No Dash for Gas campaign told Responding To Climate Change:
Fracking is an integral part of the wide No Dash for Gas protest. Fracking is about extraction, the big gas power stations are about processing and at the moment most of our gas is coming from Egypt, Qatar, Nigeria. In the future, the government plan would be to have more gas locally produced.
Our argument is that we can’t have any gas, because it’s a dirty fossil fuel that’s going to crash our climate change targets and increase fuel poverty, so it’s part of the same fight.
Government planning documents have stressed that local authorities should ignore these growing fracking protests and instead recognize mineral extraction as “essential to local and national economies,” banning then from considering whether renewable energy plants would be a better fit for their communities when receiving fracking applications.
But as the government aims to ignore the wave of protests against shale gas in the UK, protests are only set to get louder.
This weekend anti-fracking groups even plan to take their concerns to the government’s doorstep, with plans to picket Downing Street.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
Could mouthwash help stop the spread of the new coronavirus?
- How to Stop Touching Your Face to Minimize Spread of Coronavirus ... ›
- Vodka Won't Protect You From Coronavirus, and 4 Other Things to ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
- 41% of UK Species Have Declined Since 1970, Major Report Finds ... ›
- One in Eight Bird Species Threatened With Extinction, Study Finds ... ›
- Pesticides to Blame for UK's Declining Turtle Dove Population ... ›
We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.
Life-sized, ultra-realistic robotic dolphins could help end animal captivity by replacing living creatures in aquariums and theme parks.
- Keeping Large Mammals Captive Damages Their Brains - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Combine AI With Biology to Create Xenobots, the World's ... ›
- Singapore Uses 'Scary' Robot Dog to Enforce Social Distancing ... ›
By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.