Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Scaremongering and half truths on oil and gas extraction

Bill Rigby of Beverley Friends of the Earth and a local Green Party member writes:

Dear Sir,

There have now been at least eight meetings locally, sponsored by both 'sides' in the debate, with a lot of coverage on local radio and TV. A few firm details are beginning to emerge.

People's concerns extend beyond fracking and include extraction of oil and gas by any means. The local exploration company, Rathlin, says it is not going to 'frack'. Like John the Baptist, it is preparing the way for another to come in to dig a network of wells, less than half a mile apart, across the whole of the County. If Rathlin's initial exploration tells them it is possible, they will frack.

The MP for Beverley and Holderness has taken the unprecedented step of asking his constituents via email what their views are. This is good in principle but the questions themselves reveal the bias of the MP.

Beverley Friends of the Earth organised a brief public consultation at the beginning of the year, where many people queued up to say how worried they were. So we wrote to the Council, giving our findings and 160 signatures, collected in just over an hour.

The reply, from the Environment portfolio holder, Cllr Symon Fraser made no commitment to do anything, but concluded, "I can assure you that Members and Planners are aware of, and sensitive to, the anxieties of the community on this difficult matter."

Beverley Friends of the Earth find this assurance totally unsatisfactory. To meet the full expectations of this promise, we call upon the Council to

  • conduct a survey of the local community on the issue (but omit questions as to their political affiliation, and skewed items which commit the respondents subtly to agreeing with fracking)

  • organise a public consultation and debate with all 'sides' present (the drilling company have so far refused to share a platform with opponents of their activities)

  • publish articles in their own publications from scientists and economists on the broader issue of why this activity is necessary at all, and invite robust responses

Bill Rigby

Coordinator, Beverley FoE

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