Frack Free Somerset stands opposed to the government’s plans to offer a huge tax break for any councils willing to approve fracking projects in their area, as announced by David Cameron today. The Prime Minister said local authorities would receive 100 per cent of the business rates collected from drilling schemes – double their usual 50 per cent.
We believe that at a time of austerity this is a very cynical move by the government, when councils up and down the country are facing all kinds of budgetary cuts. However, it appears tantamount to bribery and indicates just how desperate ministers are to push through this deeply controversial technology. They have seen the protests against fracking, and are willfully ignoring people’s concerns about the harm it has already caused to human health, livestock and the environment in the US and Australia, due to the disruption of radioactive radium within the shale, hazardous toxins polluting the water table and respiratory problems caused by air pollution, amongst other issues.
This announcement also highlights the degree of corruption at Westminster. When various ministers and special advisers are known to have vested interests in the fracking industry, it seems clear that they want to ensure a good return on their investments, and as David Cameron has said, they’re “going all out for shale”, regardless of the costs to the British people and the environment.
However, Frack Free Somerset believes that once councillors are fully informed about the risks inherent in unconventional gas and oil extraction, they are not going to be so easily bought. Mendip District Council has already passed a unanimous motion to raise their concerns about fracking to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and is setting up a working party to look further into the risks, and Frack Free Somerset calls on other councils to do the same.
Finally, we urge Westminster to follow the example of France and Germany, where fracking has already been banned, and would like to remind the government that communities around the UK are already experiencing the effects of climate change through extreme weather and flooding and that extracting more hydrocarbons from the ground will wreck our chances of meeting our 2020 carbon emissions targets.
Frack Free Somerset is a coalition of concerned groups in Somerset who are taking action on hydraulic fracturing.