The Blackpool Gazette brings fracking to the fore

On Thursday 3rd October we read an editorial in the Blackpool Gazette which summed up a lot of how we believe local people feel about fracking. It was a reaction to the premature and arrogant statement by Prime Minister, David Cameron, that he wanted Blackpool to become the European capital of fracking.

We are reproducing it here because we feel it is well worth a read.

You can see it and the accompanying article here

Is arrogance behind our Frackpool rebranding?

So Blackpool is set to become the European capital of the shale gas industry is it?

Funny, I don’t ever remember the Prime Minister asking us residents before he decided to erect a new sign post at the end of the M55.

It appears David Cameron has got so far ahead of himself in his love affair with fracking that he is now declaring open season on rural Fylde’s rich shale gas potential.

“With its resources under the ground, let us make Blackpool the centre of Europe for the shale gas industry,” he told yesterday’s Tory Party conference.

Excuse me Prime Minister, who exactly are the “us” you talk of when rebranding the Fylde as New Aberdeen.

Maybe he was playing to the Manchester conference crowd, given the less than flattering remarks by one Tory peer who recently described life up here as the “desolate north”.

Or perhaps he genuinely believes the residents of South Fylde are as excited by shale gas as he is.

Sadly, as usual, when the highly contentious issue of shale gas and fracking is condensed into a soundbite nobody mentions the key issues residents here are asking, and none more so than that of regulation.

Over recent months we have heard all the rhetoric of “gold standard” regulation, but nobody in government is actually coming forward to explain exactly what that is.

There is little doubt some see shale gas as a key part of this country’s future energy make-up.

There are plenty who say it is safe, others armed with studies from around the world who vehemently argue against it.

The truth is that the jury on the reported risks versus the potential cash benefits is still well and truly out.

But what David Cameron has done in his speech yesterday is do nothing but raise the fears of those who feel they have not been given enough information or answers on either the scale of the industrialisation or how it will be policed, if indeed it is even given the go ahead.

At present shale gas firm Cuadrilla does not have permission to frack at any of its Fylde coast sites.

That has to be approved by Lancashire County Council.

It appears – given yesterday’s rebranding of Blackpool as the “European centre of shale” – this crucial local approval is seen as nothing more than a box ticking exercise by those in Westminster – even before we get to read a single Environmental Impact Assessment.

Given local councils are increasingly losing the power to decline rural housing developments, what chance of turning down a gas boom?

Wherever you stand on the issue, the people of the Fylde coast deserve better than such arrogance – we certainly deserve better than being used as a cheap conference one liner which could have major and lasting implications.

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