Green MEP supports anti-fracking campaigners in Balcombe

9 March 2012

Keith Taylor, the Green MEP for Sussex and the South East, has lent his support to local people in Balcombe, near Haywards Heath, who are worried about damage to their local environment, including the risk of earthquake tremors, which could be caused by hydraulic fracturing.

A public meeting is taking place tonight to discuss concerns about Cuadrilla commencing hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking' just 1 mile south of the village. The meeting has been organized by local group ‘NO Fracking in Sussex' to raise awareness of the likely effects of the process on the local environment and community. Cuadrilla has received planning permission and regulatory approval to start exploratory drilling for shale gas in Balcombe.

Green party members in Lancashire have been very vocal in opposing fracking by the same company, Cuadrilla, near Blackpool. Test drilling in Lancashre to access deposits of shale gas deep beneath the ground was linked to earthquakes and Cuadrilla was forced to admit that its activities were the "highly probable" cause of earthquake tremors of magnitude 2.3 and 1.5 recorded in the Blackpool area last spring.

Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to fracture the rocks in which the shale gas is embedded. The volumes of water used will mean increased congestion and air pollution from tanker traffic and could put serious pressure on water supplies at a local level. Local people have concerns about the use of toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and methanol and possible contamination of aquifers used for drinking water. In areas affected by drilling in America, concentrates of methane and other contaminants in water supplies have produced dirty looking tap water which can be ignited.

Keith said: "Fracking has already been banned in France and several US states. Because more evidence of the damaging consequences of this practice is still emerging we need to call for a UK moratorium on the practice. In addition, the government needs to commission thorough and independent research into the possible effects of drilling for shale gas on the environment and people's health."

He continued: "A recent report (1) shows that extracting shale gas could threaten the UK's ability to meet our carbon reduction targets. Instead we should be calling on the government to support renewable energy which is clean and does not risk wreaking havoc with the environment in an area of outstanding natural beauty."

Local resident and ‘NO Fracking in Sussex' member, Vanessa Vine, said: "We have got to nip this potential ecocide in the bud. America's hindsight shows us that fracking has the potential to cause tremendous damage to our water, our air and our seismic security. The planned site in Balcombe is in an area of outstanding natural beauty, close to a reservoir, to a main railway line and to The Millennium Seed Bank. If smaller companies like Cuadrilla are allowed to set this precedent, then there is a danger that the larger firms will move in behind them.

She continued: "The fracking industry must not get in under the radar here as they have in the bigger, less populated lands of the States, Australia and South Africa, with this utterly unsustainable technology that does not even make economic sense. They haven't reckoned on the huge groundswell of well informed and highly capable opposition in the South of England."

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