DECC Undemocratic? What do you think?

Just in case you haven’t heard yet (you may well not have heard because the media have barely mentioned it), the Government has responded to the “Underground Drilling Access” Consultation.

40,647 of us replied to DECC.  Only 82 responses (mainly by oil industry insiders) were in favour of the proposed changes to the trespass law to allow fracking under our property without our consent.  99.8% of us were opposed to the changes.

You can read the Government’s response here:
The Government’s view is that not one of the 40,565 of us who replied raised any single point which would make them change their decision to press ahead with their proposed changes to the trespass law, whereas the 82 people who were in favour of it raised some very good points about why it is needed.

So they will be forging ahead with these changes as soon as possible. They’ve also decided that the proposed changes should now apply also to Coalbed Methane Extraction even though that was not included in the consultation.

I think our first step in continuing our opposition to these undemocratic changes must be to try to raise awareness amongst people we know and also to bombard our own MPs to let them know that we do not want this.  Tessa Munt claims to be against this change (she wrote a very good letter about it encouraging us all to respond to the consultation).  I will write to her asking what she proposes to do now that the Government has decided to ignore what 99.8% of respondents have said.  Perhaps we should all do the same. I would be keen to hear your ideas about what other actions we could take.

Our awareness raising event in Wells on 21 September went well.  Around 160 people put dots on the Frackometer to show their feelings about fracking.  25 were 100% in favour, 80+ were 100% against and the rest said that they didn’t know enough to express an opinion about it yet.  We had good discussions about their questions about fracking.  Most people were concerned about contamination of the water, the geology of the Mendips, the impact of the infrastructure and our health.  Our next step is to try to get answers to specific questions from people on either side of the debate.  I’ll keep you posted about any answers we get….

The Government continues to put those in sympathy with fracking into positions of power – John Manzoni (an ex BP  exec who was fined in the US for breaching fracking regulations) has just been appointed CEO of the Civil Service.  His appointment seems to have been engineered by Lord Browne.  The new head of the Environment Agency, which will be responsible for regulating fracking to a large extent, is Philip Dilley, who was previously chairman of Arup’s and involved in advising Cuadrilla.

All very depressing, but there is some good news – UK Methane – the fracking company which holds the PEDL 227 licence in Somerset has just had it’s planning application in Neath rejected by the Council. Lets hope Somerset County Council will stand up to the frackers too.

In case anyone you know hasn’t already signed this: