East Lancashire council leader's furious Tweet over fracking ban u-turn

·4-min read
A fracking site. Inset is Susan Holliday, bottom and Cllr Alyson Barnes, top
A fracking site. Inset is Susan Holliday, bottom and Cllr Alyson Barnes, top

England’s fracking ban was lifted on Thursday (September 22) and MPs, campaigners and others across Lancashire have been sharing their views on the decision.

Rossendale Labour councillor, Alyson Barnes, said the move is a “betrayal” to the people of Lancashire, and expressed her views in a furious Tweet posted on the social media site on Thursday.

She said: “This is a complete betrayal of the people of Lancashire who clearly said that they did not want this form of gas extraction.

“It is a waste of money that will destroy our environment.

“The government should be insulating homes and investing more on renewables, like the Scout Moor wind farm extension they turned down in 2017”.

In the impassioned Tweet, the council leader said the decision was "f***ing madness".

Business and energy secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said the impact of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine means securing domestic energy supplies is vital.

He defended lifting the moratorium on fracking, the process of hydraulic fracturing, which uses high-pressure liquid to release gas from shale formations.

The ban has been in place since 2019 after a series of tremors were said to be caused by the process, including those at energy firm Cuadrilla's Preston New Road site, near Blackpool.

And a report by the British Geological Survey said there is still limited understanding of the UK's shale reserves and drilling impacts.

A woman, who lives directly opposite this fracking site and has been challenging fracking in the areas with the Preston New Road Action Group, says she is “devastated” about the lifting of the ban.

Lancashire Telegraph: Susan Holliday
Lancashire Telegraph: Susan Holliday

Susan Holliday

Susan Holliday said: “I didn’t know anything about fracking until 2014. I started researching fracking to see what it was all about.

"The more I read the more concerned I became about the negative impact it can have.

“I challenged the initial planning applications for fracking on Preston New Road and was involved in the public enquiry and judicial reviews."

Susan, originally from Blackpool, said she experienced seven earth tremors in the space of two weeks when fracking was taking place in 2019.

She said: “It was a stressful time. You don’t know the impact it will have or what damage there will be from the tremors.

“I was at home for the 2.9-magnitude tremor that struck in August and it shook my crockery and my windows shook.

“The government have always said they would lift the moratorium if they could prove it could be done safely – what has made it suddenly safe now when it wasn’t safe back in 2019?”

Susan said she intends to continue fighting fracking if it is reintroduced in Lancashire.

Claire Stephenson, from Wesham and spokesperson for campaign group Frack Free Lancashire said fracking is a “failed technology” and should be “confined to the past”.

She said: "We’ve witnessed more than 10 years of attempts to jack gas out of the ground in Lancashire, with no progress. There have, however, been uncontrollable earthquakes and structural damage – almost 200 reported claims.

“There’s also been colossal methane leaks, community disharmony, and most notable of all: zero commercial gas produced.

“We’re in a climate crisis with a desperate need for a clean, green energy future.

“Fracking will not make any positive impact on the UK’s energy needs or fuel bills, and any attempt to suggest it will, is blatant spin.

“We stand strongly opposed and united against fracking anywhere, and we will fiercely challenge this misguided administration’s attempt to backtrack on their Conservative manifesto promise.”

Friends of the Earth, an environmental organisation, shared an interactive map of areas of potential oil and gas extraction across England.

Companies with such licences have the right to search and bore for petroleum. Many of the licenced areas overlap with potential areas of fracking for shale gas, identified by the British Geological Survey.

According to the map, there are 24 across Lancashire with most confined to West Lancashire and coastal areas.

View the map on their website by clicking here: friendsoftheearth.uk