South East turns into energy battlefield

The Government has announced that funding is now available for the 116 turbine Rampion wind farm to go ahead off the South Coast, whilst at the same time putting constraints on onshore wind and promoting fracking. As Green MP Caroline Lucas says: "it's like filling up the bath while leaving the plug out".

The Environment Secretary Amber Rudd (Hastings MP) announced that the Government would allow shale gas extraction under National Parks (including the South Downs) and would make it harder for onshore wind proposals to secure permission. She said there would be no more onshore wind farms without local community support.

The Government sees fracking and offshore wind as the way forward in meeting our energy needs. But Caroline Lucas MP has highlighted the risks of fracking and is concerned that a secretive government report on the risks has not been published.

She said: "Government must take urgent action on energy efficiency and switch from dirty fossil fuels towards clean, home-grown renewable energy.   
Giving the green light to wind farms and fracking at the same time is a bit like trying to fill up a bath with the plug out.
The only safe and responsible thing to do with shale gas reserves is to leave them in the ground.
We need more offshore wind farms like Rampion and we need that to go hand in hand with a locally owned renewable energy revolution".

The Government says that it won't allow fracking infrastructure inside National Park boundaries, but that the horizontal drilling which is part of the fracking process can go under National Parks. The Energy Department says it aims to have identified suitable places for fracking by the end of July. The South East has many "suitable" sites because of the underlying geology, but many of these have already been the subject of local protests. In addition Horse Hill, near Gatwick, has recently been identified as the biggest onshore oil field in the UK, although it does not have the necessary permissions in place to exploit it.

 Meanwhile support for fracking is declining according to Carbon Brief which has been polling on energy issues since 2013. Its latest survey also found that support for onshore wind was increasing and that 50% of those polled felt the Government should be doing more to tackle climate change. You can read the polls here 


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