Councillors can only ban fracking on public land

By Antony Clay | 20/10/2017

Councillors can only ban fracking on public land
Members of Harthill Against Fracking pictured at a protest walk in August

FRACKING was given the thumbs-down from councillors this week - but they only have the power to ban it on public land.

They decided that shale gas mining will not be allowed on any land owned or controlled by Rotherham Borough Council.

Applications to carry out the controversial mining technique have been submitted for a number of sites across the district, notably at Harthill and Woodsetts.

A majority of councillors supported a motion on the ban at Wednesday’s full council meeting.

Cabinet member for housing Cllr Dominic Beck, proposing the motion, called for fracking activities, including survey work, to be banned on any land or property owned or controlled by the local authority.

He said that research in the USA and elsewhere had suggested problems resulting from fracking could include earthquakes, pollution of drinking water, and subsidence.

Cllr Beck said: “We should not be supporting industries that still extract fossil fuels — we should be encouraging renewable resources.”

Cllr Katherine Wilson, seconding the motion, said that residents were worried that fracking would have “adverse effects” on their homes.

She also questioned whether many jobs would be created by fracking in the area and it “will not be an asset to the local economy”.

Cllr Wilson said: “We want to send a message that we are standing shoulder to shoulder with local residents across the borough.”

Cllr Brian Steele told his colleagues that he would support protests against fracking in the area.

He said: “I will go on demonstrations against fracking because I will not just oppose it in words but in actions.”

Cllr David Roche asked whether people could “really trust big business” carrying out fracking, adding that “there are too many unknowns”.

He added: “I am personally not happy to take the risk with people’s lives.”

But UKIP group leader Cllr Allen Cowles said that fracking was important to provide a secure source of gas in an uncertain world and that renewable energy could not provide all the power the UK would need.

He also said that gas produced by fracking would be affordable for customers.

Cllr Cowles said: “If we are not producing our own gas, just where will the gas come from and just how secure will our supplies be?”

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