Tessa Munt MP: Why I Quit and Why I Oppose Fracking

Tessa Munt, the Wells MP, has resigned  as a parliamentary aide to Business Secretary Vince Cable, after supporting an amendment in the Infrastructure Bill calling for a moratorium on fracking.  The amendment was put forward during a debate on Monday 26th January after the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) warned fracking is not compatible with the UK’s goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and of “huge uncertainties” about the environmental impacts. The amendment attracted the support of 52 MPs. Tessa tells Talk Fracking the reasons behind her resignation and why she will continue to campaign against fracking.

This week I was forced to defy the whip and vote against the Government.  I confirmed I would continue to stand up for the public, for our environment and oppose fracking.  Making this stand cost me my Government job of three years.  But my priority is to represent the people and environment of Somerset, so it was an easy decision.

The continued extraction of fossil fuels is wrong.  Climate change is real, it’s happening now and we need to act.  Many thought David Cameron was sincere when he posed with the huskies in 2010, but this proved to have been a cynical ploy to win the trust of decent, concerned people.

Bowing to vested interests and investing time and money in fossil fuels is an unhelpful distraction from the determined focus on renewables which we so desperately need, and which the silent majority demands.

Almost everyone to whom I speak, both inside and outside the ‘Westminster bubble’ are outraged at David Cameron’s insistence on going “all out for shale” regardless of the consequences.

Climate change aside, fracking is not common sense. It’s a risky new process which involves transporting millions of gallons of water and a cocktail of chemicals across the country.  Water is a precious resource.

The regulations we have in place are not strong enough to reduce the health and environmental risks to an acceptable level. It would be extremely difficult to make fracking safe.

So it’s not surprising that the National Farmers Union (NFU) has chosen not to insure the consequences of fracking.  What’s worse is that the changes to trespass rules mean no-one has any choice about whether fracking happens under their homes, gardens, allotments and farmland.

We should watch what’s happening around us.  Fracking is banned in France, Bulgaria and New York State.  A halt has been called in the Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Quebec, and now Scotland. Residents of Denton in Texas, one of the first towns to experience fracking, have also voted to ban the practice.

My conclusion was that fracking is irresponsible, short-sighted, high risk, undemocratic and unpopular. That’s why I said “no”, and why I will continue to do so.

My ‘stop fracking’ petition is still live on my website – please sign and share: http://www.tessamunt.org.uk/anti_fracking_petition

Tessa Munt