The motion refers to the evidence about the dangers of fracking, which involves pumping water at high pressure into the ground to extract shale gas. It also points out that, in the UK, it won’t even lead to cheaper energy.
The Green Party argues that it would be better to invest in energy saving and renewable energy which would help prevent dangerous climate change and create more jobs. Copies of the motion will be sent to local MPs and government ministers and help to swell the nationwide campaign against fracking.
The Green Councillors welcomed an amendment from Labour which underlined the economic argument by criticising the government for giving massive tax breaks to fracking companies rather than spending that money on insulation and other energy efficiency measures.
Cllr Creasy said,
“In practice, the council has little power to stop companies getting planning permission to drill in the Sheffield Region, but we can send a clear message that they are not welcome. And we can join the campaign calling on politicians at national level to oppose fracking.”
Green Party motion and Labour’s amendment:
Sheffield Green Party motion on fracking:
(a) notes the presence of shale gas and coal bed methane in the Sheffield region;
(b) notes the recent mass protests against shale gas drilling in both Lancashire and West Sussex;
(c) notes the controversy about both the supposed benefits of extracting on-shore gas resources and the local environmental impacts;
(d) notes the recent evidence that 60-80% of world fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground if average global temperature rise is to remain within 2 degrees;
(e) believes that there is also compelling evidence that UK shale gas and coal bed methane would form part of that 60-80%;
(f) notes that the large amounts of water needed for hydraulic fracturing to extract shale gas (known as fracking) would reduce water supplies in this region, which are also threatened by the impact of climate change;
(g) notes the well-documented risk of groundwater contamination as a result of fracking, which would exacerbate the pressure on water supplies and put residents at risk;
(h) notes the unavoidable increase in noise, visual intrusion and air pollution from heavy traffic in communities close to fracking sites;
(i) therefore welcomes the work of the Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene in developing a Council policy on shale gas and coal bed methane extraction;
(j) will seek to attract to the City appropriate funding for projects which increase energy efficiency, sustainability and self-sufficiency, stabilise energy bills, and create jobs in the green economy; and
(k) directs officers to send a copy of this motion to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and the Minister of State for the Department for Energy and Climate Change and to all Sheffield MPs.
Green Councillors supported Labour’s addition:
This Council believes it is completely irresponsible for the Government to be offering massive tax-cuts for fracking and this money should instead have been used to kick-start a major national retrofit scheme, which would reduce carbon emissions and bills and create thousands of green-collar jobs;